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Published: 9/1/2004

Teacher helped preserve history of Fulton County

WAUSEON - Walter P. Bates, a teacher who wrote a history of Fulton County's Chesterfield Township schools, was a former president of the county's historical society, and helped rebuild the log cabin at the county fairgrounds, died Friday in the Fulton County Health Center here. He was 93.

The family did not know the cause of death. He had heart, lung, and kidney problems, his daughter, Louise Read, said.

Mr. Bates wrote History of Chesterfield Township Schools 1838-1982 after going through trustees' records to learn how little people had to work with and how much supplies cost, his wife, Mary Jane Bates, said.

"He thought it would be lost if he didn't," his wife said.

He had 300 copies of his memoirs, Horses to Computer Chips, printed earlier this year and donated them for the historical society to sell. He was president of the historical society from 1988 to 1997 and had remained active in it.

The book tells stories of growing up on the family farm, including a drive to Seattle in 1929, and the changes in farming and daily life that he saw.

"He lived in times that were far different from what the children have grown up in, and he wanted them to know how we had all lived through the Depression and how things had changed," his wife said.

In 1981, Mr. Bates helped dismantle and rebuild the 140-year-old Canfield Log Cabin at the county fairgrounds, labeling every log so it could be reassembled, his wife said. "Once he found out that there was a log cabin in Fulton County, he was determined to get it," she said.

His daughter said he selected furniture and artifacts that are displayed in the cabin.

Mr. Bates began his teaching career in one-room schools in Fulton and Williams counties after attending Bowling Green Normal College for two years, his wife said.

"He loved teaching," his wife said. "Most of all, he loved the kids. He tried to help all he could."

He received a bachelor's of education in agriculture and science degree from Ohio State University in 1940 and then taught in the Chesterfield schools.

In 1960, he received a master's of education in counseling degree from the University of Toledo. He was a guidance counselor in the Evergreen Local schools until he retired in 1976.

Mr. Bates was born June 8, 1911, in Chesterfield Township and graduated from Chesterfield Township High School in 1929. He married the former Mary Jane Willson in 1940.

He was a lifelong member of East Chesterfield Christian Church, where he held many offices and taught Sunday School.

Surviving are his wife, Mary Jane Bates; daughter, Louise Read; son, David Bates; sisters, Leota Isley and Viola Weaver; seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Visitation is from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in the Edgar-Grisier Funeral Home. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the East Chesterfield Christian Church.

The family suggests tributes to the church or to a charity of the donor's choice.



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