William Wesley Cates

Obituary
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1939-2018

William Wesley Cates of Charlottesville, Virginia, passed away peacefully at home on the evening of March 25, 2018. He was 78 years old. Known to friends as Bill, he was born on September 17, 1939 in New Orleans. Bill spent most of his life in Virginia, graduating from Cave Spring High School '58 and Roanoke College '68, and later earning a Masters degree in Theatre from Hollins University '82.

Bill was a brilliant philosopher, photographer, writer, husband, father, winemaker and entrepreneur. He loved animals, particularly dogs and horses. Believing in holistic education and the natural brilliancy within each child, he was part of the group of parents who started Community School in Roanoke, VA. Concerned about the changing environment, Bill was an active environmentalist, organic farmer and supporter of holistic medicine. Throughout his life he photographed the natural world. Capturing images of the changing landscape, Bill hoped that beauty would inspire others to protect our living planet.

Bill wrote many books, including a novel, The Growing Season, which won the fiction category of the Los Angeles Book Festival in 2015. His books of short stories include: Upon A Fine Horse, Once Upon A Time At Loch Ness and Just The Right Woman. His last novel, A Wine To Die For, will be published later in the year.

In the mid-1990s, Bill and his wife, artist, Gwen Cates, moved to Santa Ynez, CA and started Tantara Winery. Bill was a celebrated winemaker, producing some of the country's top Pinot Noir wines. In 2013, Tantara Winery was included in National Geographic's "The Ten Best of Everything." A few years later he retired and returned to Virginia, but continued to act as a consultant for Challen Winery located in Central Coast California.

Bill and Gwen were married for 57 years and they were devoted to their three children. Bill called Gwen the love of his life and said during his last day, "She just made my life work."

Bill was preceded in death by his mother, Evelyn Jennings Waldron, his father Calvin Grady Cates Jr., and his two brothers, Grady Cates III and Richard Hough. He will be lovingly remembered by artist Gwen Cates, his three daughters Ayn Cates Sullivan, Challen Cates and Trevor Cates, his seven grandchildren and his sister Karen Waldron. Bill was always the life of the party, and many friends will miss his humor, inspiration and creativity.

Due to Bill's love of nature and holistic living, donations in his honor can be made to the Natural Resources Defense Council: https://www.nrdc.org or the National Center for Homeopathy: http://www.homeopathycenter.org

Photography and books by William Wesley Cates can be viewed on his website: http://calavira.com


Published in The Santa Barbara News-Press Online Edition from Apr. 8 to Apr. 12, 2018