At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
West Shore Lutheran School
3225 Roosevelt Road
Muskegon, MI 49441
Mercy VNS & Hospice
888 Terrace Street
Muskegon, MI 49440
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Joseph Bates would agree that he was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. He was hardworking throughout his entire life, and he loved using his gifts and talents to help others in ways both great and small. A devoted family man, Joe was blessed to share the majority of his life with his true love, and there was nothing that made him more proud than witnessing his family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones. Life was not without times of trial for him, but he faced whatever came his way with both strength and courage. Deeply loved, Joe will be forever missed.
Nearly a century has passed since the end of WWI in 1918 left America recognized as a world leader for the first time and poised for greatness. We did not disappoint as innovation brought the world advancements like the radio, washing machines, and motion pictures in both color and sound during the decade that we commonly recall as the Roaring Twenties. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great anticipation in the lives of Ernest and Martha (Vaughn) Bates as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as the year drew to a close. Their wait was over on December 29th when the baby boy they named Joseph William drew his first breath in Shelby, Michigan. He was one of 11 children in the Bates clan as he was joined in his family by his sisters, Beverly, Shirley, Virginia, Cookie, Gladys, and Connie, and his brothers, Ernie, Keith, Jerry, and Gordy. Joe’s father was a farmer, which meant that Joe had his fair share of farm chores as well. He learned to drive a team of horses named “Dot and Dash” to plow the fields. As a teen Joe did some trapping and then sold the pelts to earn some extra spending money. On one occasion he fell through the ice while trapping, leaving him to run home before he froze! Joe attended local schools, and in high school he was quite the ladies’ man. He also loved to go dancing to the big band music.
Not to be forgotten during his years in high school was Joe’s introduction to the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Doris Webber, and she was one year younger than he. They met in a rather interesting way as she was dating one of his buddies. As fate would have it, Doris and his buddy didn’t last, and it was then that Joe seized the opportunity to ask Doris out. They began dating, but their relationship soon became a long distance one when he answered the call to serve in the United States Army during WWII. While home on leave, Joe married his sweetheart on May 10, 1943, in Shelby. Her Mother and the family pooled their ration coupons in order to pay for the wedding reception. Joe then returned to his duties while Doris awaited for his safe return.
While in the military, Joe was in the 16th Special Services Unit, which entertained the troops in England and Europe by putting on shows and playing music. Although he never talked about being in battle, the devastation of the war left an impression on him. Joe’s unit eventually followed the troops through the Battle of the Bulge and into Berlin before Joe returned home to Doris in 1946.
The couple initially settled in Muskegon Heights, and Joe found work at Ginman Tire. It was there that they welcomed their son, Brian, who was born in 1947. They later moved into a home on Norton Avenue where Joe lived for the rest of his life. There the family grew with daughters, Cynthia and Brenda, and sons, Craig and Kurt. Over the years Joe built several additions onto the home to accommodate his growing family as he was an amazing handyman. In addition to his home improvement projects, he enjoyed working on his car and doing body work in the garage with his buddy, Fritz Matthews. Joe also used to build “Jumpers,” which were unique single ski seat sleds for his kids to use to slide down the dunes during the winter.
Throughout his life Joe was a hardworking guy. He spent many years working as a truck driver making deliveries all over Muskegon and the surrounding area for Associated Truck Lines. Joe was well liked and made many great relationships with his customers through the 30 years that he worked for the company. After retiring, Joe went to work for Paul Thorsen at Lakeshore Carpet doing handyman work in his rental properties. He also kept very busy helping all of his own children with building projects at their houses.
Although Joe worked hard, there was nothing like time spent with family. In the 1960s they bought a cottage on Long Lake with their Mike and Ruby, Doris' brother and his wife. It started out as small shack but greatly expanded over the years. This place provided the backdrop for countless memories to be made among the four adults and nine kids swimming and water skiing. Joe loved fishing for trout and also going deer hunting in the fall with the guys as well. During their retirement years he and Doris did some camping and also traveled to a few Army reunions and to visit family around the country. In 2011, Joe was deeply saddened with the death of his beloved wife. Although it was difficult without her, he remained in his own home with help from his children including his son Kurt who lived with him. For years Joe was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church.
In everything he did, Joseph Bates gave it his all. He worked hard, but he made the time to enjoy life along the way, too. Joe was a man of honor and courage who took whatever life brought and made the best of it. He treasured time spent with his friends and family, and it was with his loved ones by his side that Joe was truly happy. He leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that will be forever cherished.
Joseph William Bates passed away Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Joe’s family includes his sons, Craig (Margie) Bates, Kurt Bates; daughters, Cynthia (Clark) Bates-Twining, Brenda (Steve) Leafers, all of Muskegon; 13 grandchildren; many great grandchildren; brother, Gordon (Julie) Bates of Muskegon; sisters, Beverly Sullivan of Ludington, Shirley (Norm) Robinson of Muskegon, and Cookie Whistler of Muskegon. Joe was preceded in death by his wife, Doris; son, Brian; grandsons, Kristopher, James, Bradley & Bryan. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, June 30, 2016, 11:00 a.m. with visitation one hour prior to the service at Trinity Lutheran Church with Rev. Paul Appold officiating. Memorials can be made to West Shore Lutheran School or Mercy VNS & Hospice.