Philip Gates died peacefully on September 26, 2021 and joined his beloved wife Suzanne (died Feb 21, 2021) in their permanent heavenly home.
Surviving daughter, Cindy Gates Leach, and son, Randy Gates, both live in Crossville Tennessee where Phil and Suzanne moved in 2020 so that the family could enjoy life together.
Phil was born in 1931 at home in Thomasboro, Illinois to Alice (Lewis) and Eschol Gates and was the youngest of seven children.
He graduated from Rantoul High School and the University of Illinois, where he majored in agronomy, and was a 4 time walk-on 1/2 mile runner on the 7 time Big Ten championship track team. Upon graduation in 1953, he was commissioned, and actively served at Fort Hood during the last months of the Korean War. Upon discharge, he returned to Champaign and proudly continued in the Army reserves, retiring in 1984 as a colonel commanding an armor unit in Aurora Illinois. He also had a 45 year career in the insurance industry, retiring from Pekin insurance. He was well known in the Champaign-Urbana park district program as a player and coach in the softball league. He loved and excelled at playing golf. He enjoyed having fun and staying active.
Most importantly, Phil married his sweetheart Suzanne in 1953 and spent the rest of his life with her by his side. They loved farm life and raised Cindy and Randy on a farm north of Champaign. He also managed to farm a small tract of land and raised Angora goats! They especially enjoyed traveling, hosting get-togethers, and cheering on the Illini.
Phil and Suzanne are responsible for starting and hosting the annual and infamous “4th of July Reunion” for over 40 years. This yearly event included food, softball, homemade ice cream, fireworks, a family picture, and countless stories. As a result, all of their generations of nieces and nephews - the cousins - share an exceptional bond from a history of fun and loving times together.
May this be their legacy.
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