PONTOTOC – Walter Gene Bates, 82, died Tuesday, March 4, 2014, at North Mississippi Medical Center in Pontotoc. A native of Pontotoc, he was the son of Charles J. ""Bones"" Bates and Mildred Holly ""Babe"" Bates. He was a member of Pontotoc Second Baptist Church where he served as a deacon and musician. He also served as minister of music for several churches in the Pontotoc area, three to name, McDonald United Methodist Church, Naylor CME Church and College Hill CME Church.
He received his bachelor of arts degree form Rust College in Holly Springs and his master's degree in both music and mathematics form Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. He taught school in West Point City School District, Aberdeen School District, his beloved Pontotoc City School District where he served for 11 years, and the Detroit City School district where he served 33 years. While at Pontotoc, he started the first Afro-American band in the school district.
Known as ""Pops,"" he was an integral part of the Pontotoc County Historical Society, Martin Luther King Dream Committee, and a active member of the United Negro College Fund. He was known for his beautiful baritone voice and teaching choirs the importance of four part harmony. He was a strong supporter of Rust College. He was also known for his beautiful needlework and quilts. He was an Army
veteran of World War II
Celebration of life service will be 2 p.m. Sunday, March 9, at Pontotoc Second Baptist Church. Dr. Perry Montgomery will deliver the eulogy. Burial will be in Pontotoc City Cemetery. Kenneth I. Roberson Funeral Home of Pontotoc is in charge of the arrangements.
He is survived by one daughter, Mildred Ann Bates of Atlanta, Ga.
He was proceeded in death by his parents and his brother, Richard ""Chick"" Bates.
Visitation will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home and one hour prior to services at the church on Sunday.