Mary Arlene Bates (nee Sass) died peacefully on January 26, 2019 at the DeKalb Area Retirement Center at the age of 95. Born July 9, 1923 on a farm in Streator IL, she was the second daughter of Grant and Myra Sass. Mary met the love of her life, Bruce Bates, while attending Eureka College. They married November 1, 1947 and enjoyed 67 years together. She was preceded in death by her parents, sister Esther Adams, and husband Bruce. She is survived by three daughters, Dr. Susan Elizondo, JoAnne (George) Adamson, and Janet (Bill) Torrance, seven grandchildren, Rachael (Jug) Stanovcic, Aaron (Margaret) VonFlatern, Brittaney (Tom) Johnson, Bill (Hillary) Torrance, Jr., Jacquelyn Adamson, Richard (Maria) Adamson, Maxx Torrance, sixteen great-grandchildren, one beloved niece Diana (Phil) Williams, and four beloved nephews David (Marge) Adams, Roger (Barb) Adams, Bob (Sue) Adams and Bruce Bates. Mary was deeply faithful and lived to cherish every day of her long life. She loved people and always saw the good in others. As a child, Mary attended a one-room school house. She graduated from eighth grade along with two other girls who would go on to earn the top three spots out of 200 in their high school graduating class. Mary was a gifted vocalist who was born to sing. She studied music at the University of Iowa and placed second in a Chicago Lyric Opera competition for young vocalists. She also had the privilege of studying music for a year after graduation in New York City under the tutelage of tenor Mario Lanza. After marriage and the birth of her daughters, Mary took on the challenge of a career at a time when most women did not work outside the home. She found she had a talent for sales and eventually became a regional manager for Field Enterprises selling World Book encyclopedias. Later she took a job with TV38 in Chicago as a tour director, organizing trips to the Holy Land in Israel. She took over 20 trips to the Holy Land and several trips to other countries including Portugal, Spain, Greece, Egypt, England, Scotland and Russia. Mary and Bruce retired to Cumberland, Tennessee where they spent some of the happiest years and made some of the dearest friends of their life. In the last years of her life, Mary would often say, “I don’t always feel happy, but I can choose to be cheerful.” In the end, her cheerful spirit helped her triumph over the adversities of aging, becoming her last, great achievement.
A visitation will be held at Bethel Assembly of God church, 131 Elm Street, Sycamore IL 60178 on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 10:00 a.m., followed by a funeral service officiated by Pastor William Mills at 11:00 a.m. A luncheon will be served immediately after the service. Mary will be buried at Riverview Cemetery in Streator IL February 3, 2019.