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Obituaries & Words of Condolence

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Mr. Clark W. Bates, 81 of Gaylord passed away at home on Saturday, August 31, 2013.

Clark, the son of Vilas and Evelyn (Clark) was born in Coldwater on February 25, 1932.


After high school, Clark attended Wayne State University where he earned his mortuary science degree.  He later agreed to a blind date and met his wife to be, Shirley.  They were married on June 21, 1958.  The couple then moved to Gaylord and Clark began his career as a mortician.


Clark worked for the Walker Funeral Home for seven years and in 1965 bought the funeral home which would then be known as Walker-Bates Funeral Home.  He later sold his business to what is now the Nelson Funeral Home.


Clark was very active in his community as well as numerous national organizations and charities.  He was a member of the Shriners, Rotary Club, Otsego County Fire Department for over 20 years and was instrumental in establishing the Otsego County EMS. Over the course of 30 plus years he taught first aid classes in the Gaylord area.  He was Mayor of Gaylord, the Alpine Village, for twelve years and was also a County Commissioner and served on the City Council as well. He accomplished the title of Past Master as a member of the Masons, Gaylord Cyrene Lodge #366.

Together, Shirley and Clark served The First United Methodist Church for many years, she as an organist and he as a sound technician.  They were active in the Eastern Star. They believed in living life to the fullest while helping others and will be sorely missed by their Gaylord family.


He is survived by his sons, Jeff (Susan) of Twin Cities, MN and Eric (Joan) of Lake Orion; grandchildren, Michael (Melissa), Kharl, Savannah, Ellianna, Olivia and Joshua; great granddaughter, Mackenzie and siblings, Jim (Barbara) Bates and Sylvia Johnson.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Shirley and his parents.


A funeral service for both Clark and Shirley will be held on Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 11 a.m. from the First United Methodist Church, Reverend John Naile officiating.


Visitation will be held for both Mr. and Mrs. Bates at the Nelson Funeral Home on Friday, September 6, 2013 from 4-8 p.m. and on Saturday (Sept 7) at the church beginning at 10 a.m.


An Eastern Star Service will be held at the funeral home Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. and a Masonic Lodge service at 7 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to the First United Methodist Church or to the American Red Cross, through the Nelson Funeral Home, P.O. Box 1548, Gaylord, MI 49734



Visitation To Be Held At: Nelson Funeral Home & Cremation Service
Service To Be Held At: First United Methodist Church
Burial To Be Held At: Fairview Cemetery

Condolence Messages

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From: Evadna Bartlett` West Virginia

My memories of my cousin, Clark, and his wife Shirley are fond; I especially appreciated their trip to Lansing for my mother's memorial service. It was the one of the very few times as adults that the six surviving Bates family cousins gathered from different parts of the country and it was a beautiful day. My condolences to their sons and families, Clark's sister and brother and the Gaylord community.

From: Judy Falk

Dear Bates Family- I was downstate when I heard of your father's passing. I was in shock and could not believe it. But, once I started thinking about it, I should not have been surprised for I seldom saw Shirley without Clark and vice versa. They were a "couple". The true definition of what love and faith should be about. I had the pleasure of knowing your father from helping the fairboard. He was our resident expert on Robert's Rules. I always enjoyed our conversations either before or after meetings. He and Shirley will be dearly missed in the Alpine Village, but the consolation is that they are now together in Heaven. And, I am sure they are up the organizing and making community contributions there as well. Love, Troy and Judy Falk

From: Marge and Milt Pritchard
Spring Hill, FL

Jeff and Eric, We were shocked to hear of your dad's passing. It should have been no real surprise since they were "joined at the hip" so to speak. One could not exist without the other...after 55 years together. God's loving arms enfold them now and forever. Our thoughts are with you and the Bates clan.

From: Janet Mosier
Lachine (Alpena County), Michigan

Dear Bates family, While I met Shirley, I mainly knew her through the discussions I had with Clark, who absolutely loved her profoundly and its obvious she loved him just the same. It is fitting they make their final earthly journey together, to meet and greet their Heavenly Father face to face. God will give them perfect peace and welcome them home, I know. I've only known Clark for 4 or 5 years, but have always felt as though I'd known him forever. He proudly talked of his children, and grandchildren, and his face beamed with pride at the mention of each one! He is tremendously proud of you all and loved you all so dearly. He was a great asset to our Community Mediation Board and will be missed greatly by all. My condolences to you all. God bless.

From: Cindy Pritchard-Anderson
Spokane, WA

Dear Jeff, Eric and the Bates Family…I am saddened with what is now the passing of both your mom and dad. My heart hurts for both of you; yet the wonderful memories of your parents and the love and care they showed so many of us over the years all come flooding back as fast as the tears down my face! May you be held tight in the arms of our most merciful God as he sends his Spirit to comfort you at this very difficult time. Your mom was just a trip (!) and your dad was the gentle giant that stood side-by-side with her. He was a lovely man and will be remembered and his memory cherished by many! Your mom and dad raised you both right! You’ve become fine men as a result of their guidance (who woulda thunk it!?!); you can both be certain that they have passed to Heaven knowing they did a great job with the time, talents and treasures they were blessed with while on this earth! Love you both!

From: Nels & Dorothy Jensen
Elmira, MI

Dear Bates Family, We were saddened to hear of the death of both your parents. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you during this trying time.

From: Julie Lovelace

Jeff, my heart is breaking for you. Your wise words of "the two of them being inseparable, both physically and spiritually..." are touching and true. Please know that you and your family are being lifted in prayer to be wrapped in God's grace and peace, today and in the days ahead.

From: Sandra Bogue
Vanderbilt, MI

I am sorry for your loss. I knew both of them through their work and play. they were a few of the back bones of our community.

From: Kassie Cadaret

Such a loss to the Gaylord community. These two have proven that love does go through all. These two were not seperates long. They now both to be beautiful angels together and be together forever. RIP my beautiful angels. Until we meet again.

From: Diana Peffers
Gaylord, Michigan

Dear Jeff and Eric, I am so sorry to hear about your father. I have heard of this happening with other couples and it has to be that they can not live without each other. God must have a plan for both of them. I can imagine how difficult this must be for you and I will be praying for you. This has to be very confusing for the grandchildren so I will be praying for them also. God Bless!

From: Jeff Bates
Stllwater, Minnesota

This has been an unbelievable week. I'm in town for the funeral of my mom Shirley, and my dad Clark passes away. I can say from my many, many conversations with them that only a son can have that these two people were inseparable, both physically and spiritually. They were in love with each other, and with all the people that surrounded them. Gaylord was their place. They were utterly devoted to making the lives of those around them better. If you knew them, you were one of their adopted children. I know, because like a parent I heard about it. As grandparents, they were 2nd to none. My children adored their grandparents from Michigan, and they adored my kids. I cannot express enough my gratitude for everyone here. My loss is great, but tempered in that they are both together again in God's kingdom. Goodbye mom & dad, I'll meet up with you again.

From: Candy (Heska) Neff

Clark and Shirley will be fondly remembered for their many contributions to this community. My heart goes out to their family, friends and all those who were touched by them in this life. May we all be consoled and find comfort in our memories of Clark and Shirley, knowing they are still together in the gentle hands of God.