Fenton Gene Cates

Fenton Gene Cates

Fenton Gene Cates, of Ashland, Ore., left this life on Monday, Aug. 10, 2009, at Ashland Community Hospital. He was born July 27, 1927, in Fort Collins, Colo., the only child of Fenton Green Cates and Willa Irene Pearl (Mullin) Cates.

A graduate of Montebello High School (California), he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech from Occidental College (Los Angeles) in 1948, where he was president of the Mens Glee Club, captain of the varsity football team and an actor/singer.

It was at Occidental that he took a Comparative Religions class and, after much analysis, made the deliberate decision to choose Christianity as his core belief. It was there also he met the love of his life, Marguerite Estella Kaye, of Long Beach, Calif., whom he married on Oct. 24, 1948, and considered the best decision he ever made.

Their early married life was spent performing as a professional music duo throughout California and Nevada, combining their singing, acting and piano talents in everything from musical comedy to grand opera. Gene's acting credits included two seasons as John the Beloved in the long-running The Pilgrimage Play performed at the Hollywood Bowl and filmed as a motion picture in 1948, numerous radio plays and performance series and various community theater roles.

He also enjoyed a successful career as a Certified Public Accountant, earning his certificate in 1964. Beginning as an accountant and auditor with Fluor Products Co., he later went into private practice in Santa Rosa, Calif., and was a partner in Cates, Bernstein and Woodruff at the time of his retirement in 1992. He was a member of AICPA, the California Society of CPAs and the Society of California Accountants.

Ever inquisitive, Gene was a self-taught expert on ancient history, British history, American history, biblical studies, fly fishing, languages, dialects, limericks, and anything else that caught his fancy.

At the time of his death, he was an active Elder at Grace Lutheran Church and a member of Rogue Flyfishers and Gallimaufrey Society.

Among Gene's great joys were his wife and family; his church; his study groups; his fishing buddies; and fly fishing at Whipple Ranch, the Holy Water, Montana and Alaska. He excelled at public speaking, combining his stage performance skills with a keen intellect and natural ability to make dry subjects interesting as a college-level accounting teacher and well-respected lecturer at conferences of the California State Board of Accountancy and the National Conference of CPA Practitioners.

He is survived by his wife, Marguerite; daughter, Marla Cates and son-in-law, Jan Ritter, both of Talent, Ore.; and grandson Jesse Ritter, of Corvallis, Ore. He was preceded in death by his parents.

A memorial service to mark Gene's successful graduation from this life to the next will be held Monday, Aug. 24, 2009, at 11 a.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 660 Frances Lane, Ashland.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Grace Lutheran Church.

Live long and prosper, Dad.

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