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Charles R. Yates

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Charles R. Yates, born to Presley Daniel Yates and Julia Richardson Yates on September 9, 1913, Charles Richardson Yates, "Charlie" to his friends, was a noted amateur golfer, businessman, and civic leader in Atlanta. Mr. Yates was beloved for his generosity of spirit, grace, humor, humility, and integrity. A graduate of Boys' High School in Atlanta, Mr. Yates learned to play golf at the Atlanta Athletic Club's East Lake Golf Course and was mentored by legendary golfer Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones Jr. He enjoyed a distinguished amateur career, winning the Georgia Amateur in 1931 and 1932, the NCAA individual title in 1934 (while an honor student at Georgia Tech), and the Western Amateur in 1935. He played on two Walker Cup Teams (1936 and 1938), captained the 1953 team, and was named honorary captain in 1985. He was the five-time low amateur at the Masters. Mr. Yates' most significant victory came at the 1938 British Amateur at Troon, Scotland. Writing about the win, Atlanta Constitution editor Ralph McGill described Yates' "infectious good humor and complete indifference to pressure" that "won the hearts of the Scots." Three weeks after winning the British Amateur, Mr. Yates' is remembered for his grace in defeat in the Walker Cup Matches. The United States lost the Walker Cup for the first time since its inception in 1922. At the victory ceremony, Mr. Yates sung an old Scottish song, "A Wee Deoch and Doris," to the delight of the crowd. James Reston of The New York Times recalled that it "was one of the memorable moments of my sporting days." Mr. Yates' competitive golf career, with the exception of several appearances at the Masters, ended with the start of World War II. After being drafted into the Army in 1941, Mr. Yates secured a transfer to the Navy in an effort to serve his country in combat. He served for thirty months as a lieutenant on the destroyer USS Mayo, which was struck by enemy fire in the invasion of Italy. While the ship was being repaired, Mr. Yates married his "bride" Dorothy Malone on May 20, 1944, beginning a lifetime partnership. Their devotion for each other was evident in their sixty-one years of marriage. Whenever anyone commented to Mr. Yates upon the special nature of this relationship, he would always explain that he had "outmarried himself." Mr. and Mrs. Yates had four children, all of whom live in Atlanta, and five grandchildren. Mr. Yates had a long and successful career in business working with the First National Bank of Atlanta (1935-1947), then with Joshua L. Baily & Co. (1947-1960), and finally with Seaboard Coast Line and Louisville and Nashville Railroads (1960-1973). Mr. Yates retired early from business at age sixty at the request of former Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. who asked him to accept the position of president of the Atlanta Arts Alliance (now the Woodruff Arts Center). While in that position from 1973 to 1983, Mr. Yates led the effort to raise $20 million to build the High Museum of Art, increased the Alliance's endowment, and brought his close friend Robert Shaw to Atlanta to serve as the symphony's musical director and conductor. Mr. Yates' always said that his greatest pleasure from those years came from watching school children leave their yellow buses to enter the building to learn about the arts. Throughout his life, Mr. Yates was deeply involved in wide-ranging civic causes. As Atlanta-Journal Constitution sportswriter Furman Bisher once noted, "Look at almost any kind of uplifting committee in Atlanta and chances are you'll find Charlie Yates' name on it." Mr. Yates served as president of the Metro Atlanta YMCA, president of the Atlanta Symphony, co-chairman of the Georgia Tech Centennial Campaign, president and life trustee of the Georgia Tech Foundation, USO regional chairman, and Director of the American Council For the Arts, among other positions. Mr. Yates received numerous honors for his civic contributions including the Distinguished Service Award from Georgia Tech; 11 Alive Community Service Governor's Award; an honorary doctorate degree from Emory University; the Brotherhood Award from the Georgia Region of the National Conference of Christian and Jews; the Heroes, Saints, and Legends Award from Wesley Woods, to name a few. For his contributions to the game of golf and in specific recognition of his "distinguished sportsmanship." Mr. Yates was given the United States Golf Association's Bob Jones Award in 1980, which he described as the most meaningful honor in golf that he could have received. Mr. Yates dedicated his life to service. In the 1990s, he supported Tom Cousins' efforts to rebuild East Lake. The public course in the neighborhood opened in 1998 and was named the Charlie Yates Golf Course. It was created for the children of East Lake to share the lessons that influenced so much of Mr. Yates' life-community, country, family, and friends. It is a fitting and lasting tribute to a life well lived. Mr. Yates is survived by his wife Dorothy, their four children and their families: Dorothy Yates Kirkley and John Kirkley; Charlie Yates Jr., Mary Yates, Charlie Yates III, and Sarah Yates; Comer Yates, Sally Yates, Kelley Yates, and Quill Yates; Sarah Yates Southerland and David Southerland. Other survivors include his brother P. Dan Yates and wife, Margaret and his sister, Frances Greene. A visitation with the family will be held at St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church on Wednesday, October 19, 2005, from 5:30 to 7:30. The memorial service will be held at All Saints' Episcopal Church at 11 a.m. on Thursday, October 20, 2005. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Camp Twin Lakes, the East Lake Community Foundation, the St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church Outreach Program, or Young Audiences of Atlanta. Arrangements by H.M. Patterson and Son, Spring Hill, Atlanta (404) 876-1022
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Oct. 18, 2005
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