Duckett Funeral Home of J. S. Waterman
656 Boston Post Road
Sudbury, MA 01776
(978) 443-5777
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BATES, George Preston 86, died in his sleep on Tuesday, February 20, following three days of doing what he loved - cross-country skiing on his favorite trails in Sandwich, NH, with friends and family who shared his passion. George's calm, patient, and humble nature belied an energy, enthusiasm, and work ethic that were inspirational and frequently a challenge for many to keep up with. Family man, entrepreneur, adventurer, conservationist, historian, and life-long learner, George had a profound impact on the people, organizations, and communities he came in contact with.

Born in Boston to George E. and Dorothea (Breed) Bates, George grew up in Concord where he attended Fenn School. He graduated from Milton Academy, Harvard College (1954), and Harvard Business School (1958). George served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1956. In 1958, George married Nancy Biddle, his life-long companion, supporter, and accomplice. In the same year, George embarked on his first business venture, Shield Packaging Company, deliberately choosing what, at the time, was an unconventional path in order to have the freedom and ""satisfaction of creating something on my own."" Other businesses followed: Harvard Turf Farms/Tuckahoe Turf Farms, U.S. Silver Mining, Shield Packaging of California, and Harrison Specialty. George was viewed as a fair, ethical, and old-fashioned (in the best sense of the word) businessman who believed in the power of relationship - that if you get to know someone and they get to know you, you can do things together. At the time of his death, he was still actively managing his businesses.

Among those who have traveled or spent time on a boat, plane, or trail with George, his epic adventures have become legendary and a rite of passage for anyone who has been on a trip with him. George was unflappable and indefatigable. He loved being on the water and especially the total concentration required of sailboat racing. He navigated the waters of Maine, Fisher's Island Sound, Scandinavia, and France by both motor and sail. He flew a single engine Cessna from Hanscom Field to places as far away as Alaska, Labrador, and Guadeloupe and as close as Stowe for a weekend of skiing. He drove across the country numerous times, appreciating that the best way to see the world was up close and sometimes off the beaten path (literally). He traveled to all seven continents and was a member of the Harvard Travellers Club. George was a lifelong hiker and skier. He climbed mountains in New England, Colorado, Europe, and Mongolia. Cross-country skiing trips with Nancy included Worldloppet marathons in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Austria, and Japan. In his later years, George took great pleasure in tromping in the woods on foot and on ski with children and grandchildren - getting a kick out these three-generational trips. George competed in the Craftsbury Ski Marathon in January and was training for his 18th Norwegian Birkebeiner marathon in March.

George was very interested in archaeology, genealogy, and local history. As a boy, he roamed Concord for Native American arrowheads and relics of the Revolutionary War. Later, he used title searches to satisfy his curiosity about the land and houses that were part of his roots or that created a grounding connection for him. He was an avid conservationist, keen on preserving open spaces, creating access to field, forest and stream, and sharing his knowledge and love of the land with others. A member of Weston Forest & Trail Association for half a century, he served as trustee, treasurer, chief historian, and trail worker. George was also a long-time member of the Weston Conservation Commission. Over the years, George and Nancy protected numerous parcels of land in New England through several organizations: the Society of the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Chapman Sanctuary and Visny Woods (NH), Lakes Region Conservation Trust (NH), Avalonia Land Conservancy (CT), Massachusetts Audubon Society, and The Trustees of Reservations.

George was a wise, generous, and kind person. He had the unique ability to compartmentalize his life so that he could be present and focused on the people he was with and whatever he deemed most important. George seemed to have time for everyone. He set an example by the way he led his life and the gracefulness and dignity with which he aged.

George leaves behind his wife of 59 years, Nancy; his brother, Nathaniel ""Buddy"" Bates, of Aspen, CO; his children - Cynthia Breed Bates of Roslindale, MA; Stephen Bates, his wife, Kelly, and their sons, Calden and Nevin, of Dover, MA; Sarah Brownell Dolcino, her husband, Darryl, and their children, Isabelle and Oliver, of Bow, NH; a large extended family and a broad network of friends and colleagues.

A service of remembrance will take place at the First Parish Church in Concord, MA, at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, March 23. Memorial contributions may be made to Pathfinder International (Watertown) or Weston Forest & Trail Association.

Duckett - J.S. Waterman & Sons Home of Memorial Tribute

Sudbury, MA

(978) 443-5777
Published in The Boston Globe on Feb. 28, 2018
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