Diantha (Ditty) Lancaster Gates passed away peacefully at home October 15, 2005. Ditty's family, her love of the Lord, and her passion for music filled her life. Ditty was born October 4, 1913 on a refugee train coming out of Mexico during a revolution. By the time she was two months old, she had been in two countries, traversed the Gulf of Mexico, and traveled over 2000 miles. Ditty spent her early years in Mexico and Cuba with her missionary parents, the Reverend and Mrs. James P. Lancaster, and her four siblings. The children were all bilingual, and Ditty, as a kindergartner, was called upon to serve as interpreter between the English-only speaking missionary teacher and the Spanish-speaking students. Ditty's musical gifting developed naturally, among a family with five children where each of them played at least one instrument, and all sang continually. Many times they were the choir and the orchestra for their father's church services. Ditty graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor's degree in music, going on to conduct school bands and teach instrumental music. She played first flute in the El Paso Symphony. Later in her life, she played in the Sun City Orchestra, and served as President of the Sun City Musicians' Club. Ditty was a life-long musician, playing her flute as though she and the instrument were one. On December 25, 1934 Ditty and Harold B. Gates were married. Over the next 17 years they: had four children, lived in California, New Mexico, and Texas, where they started Sno-White Laundry and Dry Cleaners. In 1951 Harold and Ditty moved the business and 32 family members and staff via caravan to Colorado Springs. Ditty became active in the community; joining Chapter BW PEO Sisterhood; serving as President and State Deputy in District 17. This affiliation and the caring relationships that developed remained important throughout her life. Harold "Hap" and Ditty sold their business in 1968 and began a season of extensive travel through Europe and Asia, and spent ten years in an Airstreem trailer touring Central America, Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. Ditty was always active in the Methodist Church: serving as President of Church Women United, teaching Sunday school, leading various women's groups and playing her flute in ensembles and solos. Ditty was a devoted student of God's word, writing and teaching Bible studies for children and adults throughout her lifetime. Her remarkable ability to understand the Lord's word, coupled with her boldness and sense of humor allowed her to witness every day of her life, that others would see her joy in knowing Jesus. Ditty was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, Harold; son, Jim; and brother, James M. Lancaster. She is survived by her sisters: Elizabeth Carsey of Flagstaff, AZ and Mary Jo Bennett of Colorado Springs; brother, Jonathan Lancaster of Austin, TX; son, Myron Gates of Honolulu, HI; son, Steve (Karen) Gates of Colorado Springs; daughter, Marti Miller of Colorado Springs; grandson, Chip (Gillian) Miller of Houston, TX; granddaughter, Beth Gates (Geoff Dorn) of Portland, OR; granddaughter, Kris (Todd) Riley of Florissant, CO; grandson, Dustin (Hilary) Muratori of Colorado Springs; grandson, Bret Muratori of Seoul, S. Korea; and eight great-grandchildren. A Memorial Service will be held at First United Methodist Church Friday, October 28th, 2:00 p.m. Inurnment will be held at a later date in the Church Columbarium. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Chadbourn Gospel Mission, 402 Conejos Street, Colorado Springs, 80903; Pikes Peak Hospice; or First United Methodist Church Music Department. Our beloved mom, grandma, GiGi, sister and "aunt Ditty"--we miss you and we love you. "Until we meet again.
Published in The Gazette on Oct. 22, 2005.