SFA grad to celebrate 100th birthday with Nov. 13 party at Pearman Alumni Center
The Stephen F. Austin State University Alumni Association will host a special 100th birthday party for Kyle Bates of Kilgore at 2 p.m., Nov. 13 in the Tracie D. Pearman Alumni Center on the SFA campus.
A Life Member of the SFA Alumni Association, Bates graduated from the university in 1930 with a degree in history and received a master’s degree in 1942.
Bates was born in the Nat Community of Nacogdoches County on Nov. 11, 1909 to David Oscar Bates and Sudie Ann Elizabeth Murphy Bates. His parents were descendants of pioneer settlers of the Republic of Texas. He attended elementary school in Cushing and ended his secondary education at the sub college at SFA before working toward his college degree. Believing in the value of audiovisual materials in the classroom, Bates made a film on the East Texas paper industry as part of his work for his master’s degree. After teaching a year in the Barber’s Hill school district, Bates became a teacher and principal of the Laird Hill School in October 1931. The school was constructed to serving the growing population caused by the East Texas oil boom, and opened in November with six classrooms and seven grades.
In addition to his teaching, Bates worked extra jobs and during the summer to support his family. He was the first manager of the Kilgore city swimming pool and also worked as a roughneck in the oil field. Other jobs included milking cows, pumping gas and truck farming to help put himself and his four siblings—Garth Charles Bates, a 1939 SFA graduate; Jeanette Bates Coward, a 1939 SFA graduate; and John Harold Bates, who also attended SFA—through school. The youngest sibling, David Quentin Bates, attended the SFA Demonstration School but graduated from the University of Texas.
Before his retirement in 1974, Bates served in nearly all schools in the Kilgore Independent School District. His daughter Carole Bates Penka said her father’s most astonishing accomplishment was the food served in the school cafeterias he managed.
“In the era before the free school lunch programs, no child was ever allowed to go hungry at his schools,” she said.
Bates is married to the former Dorothy Butler Osborne, also retired from Kilgore ISD. Bates’ first wife Olive Dickson Bates died in 1996.
For more information, contact Mitzi Blackburn at the SFA Alumni Association at (936) 468-3407.