Francis Bates, 91, of Salem, Ore.

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 22, 2005

Salem, Ore. &045; Francis J. Bates, 91, died peacefully at Salem Hospital on Sunday with his wife of 62 years at his side. He was born on April 9, 1914, in Hartland, Minn. to Melvern T. and Nettie M. Bates. He married Helen Dombroske on July 1, 1943.

A veteran of WW II, he served from November 1942 to January 1946 with the Army Air Corps ending his service as a staff sergeant. While in the Army Air Corps, he was a flight engineer conducting bomber crew training at Hobbs Army Air Corps Base in Hobbs, N.M.

Following the war, he returned to farming in Freeborn, where, later, he co-founded the American Legion Gilmore Stensrud Post #552. In 1955, Frank moved his family to Albert Lea when he accepted the position of County Veterans Service Officer. He retired in 1978. During that period, he provided extensive support and concern for thousands of Freeborn County Veterans and their families. He became an active member of the American Legion Leo Carey Post #56 in Albert Lea and was a Past First District Commander (1959). He also was a member of the Minnesota Local 1210 Chapter of the 40/8, and was a Past Chef de Gare, a lifetime member of the Minnesota Association of County Veterans Service Officers and a member of the Elks Lodge 813 in Albert Lea.

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Frank had a lifelong love of horses and enjoyed pleasure and trail riding and driving his team in parades. He also enjoyed traveling the United States and Canada. After retiring in 1978, he and his wife went through three motorhomes and two fifth wheel travel trailers before settling in Tucson, Ariz. from 1986 to 1995.

He moved to Salem, Ore., in 1995, where he resided until his death.

Survivors include his wife, Helen; son and daughter-in-law John M. and Karen Bates of Green River, Wyo.; daughter and son-in-law LeeAnne and Splinter Wrenn of Portland, Ore.; grandson SPC Brandon D. Bates, 1/508 ABN, 173rd Airborne Division, Afghanistan; granddaughter ENS Katherine A. Wrenn, MC, USNR, Georgetown School of Medicine, Washington, DC and great-grandson Cole D. Bates, Rock Springs, Wyo.

A remembrance gathering will be held Friday, Dec. 23, 1 to 3 p.m. at Paradise Island Clubhouse, 3100 Turner Road SE, Salem, Ore. Memorial donations can be made to the charity of your choice.