VASSALBORO - Benjamin H. Cates, 93, died Jan. 15, 2014, at Oak Grove Center in Waterville. He was born March 20, 1920, in East Vassalboro, the son of Benjamin H. and Annabell (Ingraham) Cates Sr. He married Edna Ruth Winder, of Fallsington, Pa., in Feb. 26, 1944, being married for 60 years until her death in 2004.
Ben grew up on the family farm in East Vassalboro, where he learned the value of simple living and a loving family. He graduated from Coburn Classical Institute in Waterville, and later attended Bentley School of Accounting. As a conscientious objector, Ben worked in the Civilian Public Service for two years during World War II. He worked at testing dairy herds in Connecticut for butterfat contend and diseases, and building fire towers in Maine and Vermont to help protect New England's forests. It was during this period that he married the former Edna Ruth Winder, of Fallsington. He became an accountant for Harris Baking Co., in Waterville, for many years, and did some advertising design for them, as well. Later Ben and Edna purchased the Cates' Country Store in East Vassalboro, from Ben's mother, and owned and operated the business for many years after that, raising a family of seven children during that time period. After selling the store, he worked in the construction trades with his brother Herbert, and was the treasurer and custodian for the Friends China Camp in South China, a summer camp for Quaker youth. He was also the accountant for the Vassalboro Sanitary District, and was a realtor and owner of Cates' Country Homes. He was active in local government, serving as both selectman for the town of Vassalboro, and also served for a while on the Budget Committee. Ben was also active in the Vassalboro Grange, holding many offices, including being master of that Grange for a while.
He was a lifetime member of the Vassalboro Friends (Quaker) Meeting and the New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. He was a charter member of the Kennebec Valley Chapter of SPEBSQSA, and barbershop style of singing was a lifetime pursuit, as was being an avid Maine sportsman. He loved being out in the woods and fields of Maine. He was a gentle, peaceful man, and loved when friends and family came to call, especially when they came bearing grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was liked by all who knew him and will be greatly missed by all.
His family would like to thank the wonderful folks at the Oak Grove Living and Rehabilitation Center, and the folks from MaineGeneral Hospice for the care, comfort and attention they gave Dad during his last days. Thank you all for doing what we are never really prepared to do.
Ben is survived by his children, Robert L. Cates, of Knox, N.Y., Richard L. Cates, of East Vassalboro, Gerald P. Cates and wife Dianne (Rancourt) Cates, of Waterville, William H. Cates and wife Deb, Nancy (Cates) Greenwood and husband Charles, of Exeter, N.H., Randall C., Cates and wife Carol Prombo-Cates, of St. Louis, Mo., and G. Allen Cates, of Sarasota, Fla.; grandchildren Adam Cates, Tracy Cates, Darrin Cates, Kristi (Cates) Smith, Zachary Cates, Amy Cates, Wendy (Cates) Grenier, Beth Boivsert, Katie (Greenwood) Walo, Emily (Greenwood) Duhs, Peter Prombo-Cates and Cary Ann (Cates) Young; 22 great-grandchildren; siblings Paul Cates and wife Elisabeth (Guertler) Cates, of East Vassalboro, June (Cates) Rodis and husband Charles, Carleton Cates and wife Saundra (McMeans) Cates, of Wilmington, Ohio, Ann (Cates) Higgins, of East Vassalboro, and Herbert Cates, of East Vassalboro; many nieces and nephews; and many great-nieces and great-nephews. He was predeceased by granddaughter, Mandy Lea Cates; Maynard Cates, Helen (Cates) Wyman and husband Charles, Margaret Cates, George Cates, Effie Cates, Coralene Driscoll, Marion (Cates) Murray and husband Richard, and Guy Higgins.
A memorial service celebrating his life will be held in the spring. Date to be announced later.
In lieu of flowers, friends wishing, may make donations in Ben's memory to the Friend's China Camp, c/o Nat Shed, director, 25 Burleigh St., Waterville, ME 04901-7303.
Arrangements under the care and direction of Dan & Scott's Cremation & Funeral Service, 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan.