Donald “Gator” Bates, 63, of Centerville, passed away Friday, June 28, 2013 at Mercy Medical Center in Centerville.
He was born Jan. 9, 1950 in Centerville, the son of Litel Joseph and Doris Marion (Conger) Bates. Don was raised in Cinci-nnati and graduated from Center-ville High School with the Class of 1968. Following high school graduation, he attended and graduated from Indian Hills Community College (Centerville Community College) with an associate’s degree. Don continued his college academic career at Iowa State University until his decision to enlist in the United States Army in July of 1969 to be with his twin brother Ronnie, who was drafted, in order for the twins to serve together.
His military career included two tours in Vietnam from 1969-71. Don’s courage to serve his country faithfully resulted in numerous military honors, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Combat Infantryman Medal, a Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal.
Following Vietnam and the conclusion to his military career, Don worked in construction in Des Moines. He would later relocate back to his hometown of Centerville in the late 1970s. It was during this period of time that Don and fellow bikers started the Guardians Motorcycle Club. Don was a member of the Guardians M.C. throughout the 1970s.
On June 17, 1984 Don married Sandy Summers at the reservoir in Centerville and to this union, two children were born, Eric and Brenda. Don and Sandy would later divorce.
In the late 1990s Don became a proud member of the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club and had maintained his membership to the present day. He was also a member of the DAV (Disabled American Veterans Club).
His greatest passion in life was his love of Harley Davidson motorcycles. More importantly, his greatest love in life was his children, Eric and Brenda, and his granddaughter, Aubriana.
Don is survived by his children, Eric Bates (Shashana Ownbey) and Brenda Bates (Chris Regenwether) all of Centerville; a granddaughter, Aubriana Regenwether of Centerville; his fiancé, Ann Merrill of Centerville; and two sisters, Judi (Larry) Hiatt of Centerville and Linda (Bill) Henderson of Centerville.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and four brothers, Neil, Litel Jr., Richard and twin brother, Ronald.
Funeral services will be held at 11a.m. Wednesday, July 3 at Lange Funeral Home and Crematory in Centerville with Pastor Eric Hoover officiating.
Visitation will be from 9-11 a.m. Wednesday before the funeral service at Lange Funeral Home and Crematory. Burial will be in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Cincinnati with military rites.
A memorial has been established to “Homeless Vets,” VA Medical Center and may be left or mailed to the Lange Funeral Home and Crematory, 1900 South 18th St., Centerville, Iowa 52544.
Condolences may be left online at www.langefh.com.