Vale’s David Bates remembered for gentle nature

David and Jessica Bates of Vale. (Family photo)

By John L. Braese

The Enterprise

As family, co-workers and friends prepare to honor David Bates, 38, on Saturday, those who knew him best want the community to know the man, the father, the real David. From attending his children’s sporting events, helping out friends in need and introducing himself to strangers when they looked like they needed a friend, Bates is remembered by many after a horrific crash took his life last Monday.

While driving to work with his wife, Jessica, another driver crossed the centerline and hit the Bates’ vehicle head on. David died at the scene while Jessica was transported for medical attention. She has since returned home to Vale.

The funeral for David Bates will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, in the Vale High School gym. A dinner will follow at Vale Christian Church.

David Bates was born in Baker and lived in Halfway until he was 10. At that time, his family moved to Vale.

While attending high school in Vale, he participated in basketball and football, a Vale tradition.

After graduating in 1998, David attended Boise State University. While working at St. Alphonsus, he met Jessica who was starting her internship in the department. They married in 2004 and have five children.

David rose to the manger of the radiology department at the hospital. Jessica also works in the radiology department.

“David was generous, other-centered, and always gave people the benefit of the doubt,” Jessica said. “Next to God, his wife, children and family, he loved golf and his Traeger. He always loved family game nights and all the chaos and joy of a big family. Sometimes he would wrestle, usually with brother Matt’s help, against all the many children in the family to the point of being sore the next day. He could smoke a mean turkey and he made the most fantastic cinnamon rolls ever after much experimenting and blending of techniques and recipes. He was very soft hearted and a hard worker.”

“There is a lot people already know about David, but the one thing that needs to be known is he never met a stranger,” said sister-in-law Chelsea Bates. “He always made the time to meet someone whether they were walking on the street or he just saw you in the grocery store. He was always there to pick you up.”

A memory making the rounds is the attitude David had when his younger brother, Matt, a freshman, made the varsity basketball team while David, a junior, remained on junior varsity.

“Matt was just naturally a good athlete and David always had to work his butt off,” Chelsea said. “Sitting in the stands watching his brother take the court for the varsity game, he was asked how he felt watching his little brother take the court on varsity. He said you have to be proud of people around you. It truly showed how selfless he was. He was a great man.”

As a member of the family through marriage, Chelsea also spoke of the closeness of the entire clan, including David.

“He chose to return here and raise his family,” she said of her brother-in-law. “The whole family is full of love and compassion in everything they do. You will never find a closer family and a better father than David.”

The Malheur Enterprise asked those who knew David the best for their memories.

Bates family: He was the best of us. He was proud of his family and all they are. We are a family of one. Dave and Jess were always good people apart, but together, they were phenomenal. He had the ability to open his heart to all and everyone, a true gift that he was given out of the seven children. He never let life get the best of him. He is a good Godly man and led a life that his kids would be proud. He never felt defeat when something failed. It make him work harder and try more.

Jessica Kulm: Dave was playing basketball our junior year. We (our friends) were a little concerned about how Dave would react to the situation of his younger brother Matt playing varsity before Dave got a chance to. Dave had more heart and compassion for sports than most we knew and he worked harder than anyone to achieve his accomplishments in sports. Matt was naturally a better athlete and we were worried that there might be a moment when Matt would pass Dave up in position. The day that happened I remember sitting next to Dave as he had just finished his JV game. We watched as Matt was getting ready to start his first varsity game.

As the game was starting, we were all wondering how Dave was taking it. He very proudly turned to us and with a smile he announced how awesome his brother was and how he was his biggest fan. In that moment he couldn’t have been prouder. Thinking not of himself but looking on in wonder at his little brother in amazement. That day Dave taught us to celebrate the accomplishments of those we love beyond the expectations we hold for ourselves. He was

Chad Cooper: In 2004 my dad had a fatal heart attack. Once in the hospital, they tried to revive him and with no luck we had to go in and say our good byes but little did I know when I entered the room my good friend David was on the other side of the curtain and had heard the whole thing.

When he came around and saw me and my family there I could see in his eyes the sadness but being the awesome guy he was he came over gave me a hug and was already trying to offer his support and help he prayed with us. Him being there at that moment was something I will never forget. David was a true friend and I will never forget my dad dying but I also will never forget my friend David being there to console me

Trevor Shelton: Like the rest of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about Dave these past few days. When I heard, I immediately went to the yearbooks, which brought back some great memories. What an amazing friend. Can’t think of a negative time or a time he wasn’t smiling (or going crazy in celebration during a game.)

Katrin Seals: Whenever I would see David at the store or around town he would always take the time to stop and talk to me and ask me how the kids or Randy [her husband] were doing. Even though I didn’t grow up in Vale and moved here after Randy and I got married, he always made me feel like I was part of the community. He was always such a nice person.

Mandy Trevino: I saw Dave in Logan’s a couple of weeks ago and he had several of his children.  One of them wanted to swipe and enter the numbers of his credit card into the machine.  There was quite a line at the checkout. I then watched Dave patiently instruct his daughter how to swipe the card and enter the numbers. It took several attempts, but after success they exchanged those amazing smiles.

Dave did not care that there was a line of people waiting nor did he acknowledge the customer who was growing impatient. It made me realize that I, like many parents, all too many times rush or put that “rude impatient stranger” ahead of my own family.  It’s funny how witnessing Dave that day, as minor as this story might seem to some, was very significant to me. Thank you Dave for the friendly reminder to me as a parent to just SLOW DOWN and to be more patient.