George W. Kates

1922 - 2012 Obituary Condolences
George W. Kates Obituary
George W. Kates October 17, 1922 - October 27, 2012 George W. Kates, age 90, died on October 27, 2012 in Bakersfield, CA. In 1941 he went off to World War II, spending most of his Army Air Corps career in the South Pacific Theater as part of a Fighter Group of five squadrons. George's brother, Charles M. Kates, died at the Battle of the Bulge, a loss that motivated George to "earn this... earn it." George met his beloved wife, Catherine (Kay) Radovanich while they were stationed (she was a WAC) at Drew A.F.B., Tampa, Florida. Their marriage on May 13, 1944 endured 60 years until her death in 2004. George attended University of Florida School of Law on the GI Bill and also worked as a structural steelworker during that time. He remembered it as exciting work as his jobs always gave him a feeling of accomplishment in helping construct something that had both form and purpose. He was proud of his membership in the Brotherhood of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers of America. The UF elected George to its Hall of Fame, the highest honor the institution bestows on its students, upon George's graduation in 1949. It recognized his extracurricular activities and untiring work in obtaining 626 student housing units for married veterans, founding and serving as President of a student run Co-Operative grocery store of 630 members, an Honor Court member, Chi Phi Fraternity brother, and business manager of the then recently founded UF Law Review. His intro for the UF Hall of Fame reads: "Kates - in one word, ACCOMPLISHMENT, - no task too big; no glory but attainment, housing, Co-op, Law Review, these mark the man - friendly, efficient, courteous, diligent, - perennial politician, - hail fellow well met, thy future is secure." This description characterized George for his life-time. George was senior partner in the Miami, Fla. law firm of Kates, Ress, Rosenberg, and Gomez. Lewis Ress joined George in the firm in 1958; they shared a special bond, remained longtime partners in other matters, and had implicit trust in one another. George later partnered, in 1984, with his daughter, Kathe Kates Davis, in Kates and Davis of Tehachapi and then Bakersfield, CA. Not only did George partner with his daughter in the practice of law, but he started Western Pacific Monitoring Company, Inc. (monitoring alarms of subscribers to alarm companies) and his son, George Jr., was its executive vice-president from 1977 - 1995 until it was sold to a national alarm company. George was a founder of the Second National Bank of Miami and Sierra National Bank of Tehachapi. During George's early years of law practice, he became highly interested not only in the field of banking but in real estate development which also reflected his love of construction. He developed one of the first planned industrial parks in Florida, and developed land in Marco Island, Fla. and Queens Cove in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. George's love of the Bahamas stemmed from his paternal descendants who were long-time settlers ("conchs") of Eleuthera, Bahamas, some of whom later moved to Key West and Miami, Florida. In 1966, George became President of the Grand Bahama Development Company (DEVCO) converting pine-laden acreage into a large residential and resort center. In a 1975 Bahamian Review magazine, George was named "Man of the Year" for his significant contribution in making the Bahamas a place where peace and progress prevail; that same article described DEVCO as one of the most successful land development firms in the Western Hemisphere. Credit was given to George, who was described therein by an associate as a man with "the vision of a real estate developer, the agile brain of a good lawyer, the fairness of a judge (in the 1950's he was a municipal judge in El Portal, Fl) and the conservatism of a banker." In a recent history of Grand Bahama Island, George was also described as the dynamic president of DEVCO, who oversaw a giant land sales program in Lucaya and, to simplify the paperwork involved in selling to U.S. residents, the DEVCO land was accepted as being virtually part of the United States. George's fondest project on Grand Bahama Island was his vision and building in 1973 of the still-standing and well-visited 12-acre Garden of the Groves which featured gardens, waterfalls, lagoons, streams, fountains, and a chapel. As President of DEVCO, George also developed Stallion Springs in Tehachapi, moved there in 1976, and then moved to Bakersfield in 1989. George contributed to a host of civil affairs and served on almost every board on Grand Bahama Island for the betterment of Bahamian society, including a major attempt to form a university. He was also a director of the Crime Commission of Greater Miami, formed and served on the Tehachapi Health Foundation and Tehachapi Economic Development Corporation, but his longest and most heart-felt membership was his 62 years in Kiwanis. His past offices in Kiwanis include Lieutenant Governor of Kiwanis International and President of the Kern Kiwanis Foundation. His other passion was tennis; he was a "nooner" at the Bakersfield Racquet Club and also served as a director of its board. George was preceded in death by his wife, Catherine (Kay) and his son, George W. Kates, Jr., and he is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Kathe and Warren Davis, and his grandchildren, Kadi and Jeff Davis. One of the gifts that George and Kay gave their children and grandchildren is the unwavering assurance of their love for each other. Their signature love song, "Lara's Theme" and its words, "someday we'll meet again, my love," has now been realized. If I had to choose words to describe my Dad, I would say that he was the ultimate optimist, honest, and dynamic. He showered his family with his optimism and love. His optimism went hand in hand with his wonderful sense of humor. In practicing law and living his life, he always tried to do the right thing. Dad was of the old school who thought the practice of law to be a noble profession. He was proud of his first case, a divorce, because he guided the parties to a reconciliation, even though it meant no fee to him. Dad was dynamic, especially in his love for his family. He would have moved heaven and earth for his family, and he did. He was my moon and my stars. A special thanks to the members of Kern Kiwanis Club for treating George as a brother for so many years; also, to George's home aides, Jean Kleinknight and Judy Paredes, who were true angels in their care for George. A service will be held at Bakersfield National Cemetery on Friday, November 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm. www.bakersfield.com/obits
Published in Bakersfield Californian on Oct. 31, 2012
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