Rex James Bates
November 9, 1923 – March 8, 2016
Rex James “Jim” Bates of Sequim, Washington was born on November 9, 1923 in Seattle to parents Rex L. and Lucy Anderson Bates. During the Depression years, the Bates family lived with two other families in a house which is now a Boeing Field runway. After a brief interim stop in Tacoma, the family moved to the Multnomah Village area of Portland, Oregon where Jim attended Lincoln High School.
In 1942, after a year at Oregon State University, Jim enlisted in the US Army and was recruitedinto the Army Air Corps Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. This was a handpicked group of 24 engineering students who were commissioned as Lieutenants, trained at the University of Washington, and sent to the Pacific to fly into the weather to determine conditions before the commencement of major battles. They were based on Guam and were the first “Hurricane Chasers” – the first to fly into the eye of a Hurricane. During one of many reconnaissance flights, his B-24 ditched into the South Pacific and while Jim was severely burned he aided in the rescue of several of his crewmates. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.
Upon his return to Portland, Jim renewed his acquaintance with Reva Meyers. They married in 1947 while Jim was a student at the University of Chicago School of Business. After earning a BS in Physics and an MBA specializing in Statistics and Applied Mathematics at Chicago, and turning down an offer to be a radio and TV weatherman, he joined the investment firm of Stein Roe and Farnham. As a partner, he worked for 23 years as both a stock and bond analyst. During those years, Jim and his growing family, wife Reva, daughter Patsy, and son Rex lived in Park Forest, IL. and then in Barrington, IL.
In 1972, Jim became Financial Vice President of State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Illinois where he served for 19 years and assisted in substantially improving State Farm’s long term financial sustainability. He was a modest man and was embarrassed by a 1981 Wall Street Journal article which called him the “lone ranger of investing” for his decision to buy high yield municipal bonds in an era when they were not a preferred investment. He was elected to the Boards of Directors of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and all of its affiliates and retired in 1991 as Mutual Company Vice Chairman. He served as a trustee of Illinois Wesleyan University and The Brookings Institution. Subsequent to his retirement he served on the boards of directors of 20th Century Insurance and Ventana Medical Systems.
A life-long “Birder”, Jim served as a trustee of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology for many years. He was also an avid stamp collector, tennis player, and salmon fisherman. Tennis playing took him to the USTA National Championships in 1989 where his 65 and older 3.5 doubles team won first place. Fishing took him to Alaska, the Northwest Territory of Canada, Iceland, New Brunswick, and Russia.
Jim touched the lives of many. He was always willing to assist others with financial advice and at one time had over 30 “widows and divorcees” for whom he provided free financial consulting. He loved to mentor young people and provided financial assistance to an unrecorded number of young people struggling to get through college or graduate school.
Jim and Reva moved to Sequim, Washington in 2000 to be closer to their children and grandchildren. His patronage of the Sequim City Band led to the development of the James Center for the Performing Arts. Annie Wright Schools in Tacoma and The Dungeness River Audubon Center, along with a number of other institutions, also benefited from his largess. Jim will be missed by the Driftwood Club, the Stamp Club, and by his many friends with whom he kept in regular telephone contact.
Predeceased by wife Reva in 2011, Jim is survived by their children Patricia Mattingley (Dave) of Sequim, Rex Bates (Angela) of Seattle, three granddaughters Jennifer Mattingley Hommel (Tom), Gabrielle Bates and Amber Bates, and two great-grandsons Lucas and Brandon Hommel.
At Jim’s request no services will be held. Arrangements have been made with the help of the Sequim Valley Funeral Chapel. Interment will be in Sequim View Cemetery.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Reva Bates Scholarship at Annie Wright Schools, 827 North Tacoma, Avenue, Tacoma, Washington, 98403 www. aw.org, Sequim City Band, P.O. Box 1745, Sequim, WA 98382, www.sequimcityband.org or Dungeness River Audubon Center, 2151 West Hendrickson Road, Sequim, WA 98382, www.dungenessrivercenter.org.