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COLUMBIA CITY â€” Benton E. Gates Jr., 81, of Columbia City, a prominent local attorney, died Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 14, 2011 at his home.
He was born Nov. 9, 1929 in Fort Wayne, a son of Benton E. and Mary Jayne (Sample) Gates.
His formative years were spent in Columbia City where he graduated from Columbia City High School in 1947; then the University of Michigan in 1951 where he played on the freshman football team in 1947.
In 1954, he graduated from the University of Michigan Law School. He was a member of the Barristers Society while at the University of Michigan.
He also worked for the athletic department at the University of Michigan and later worked as a statistician with Chris Schenkel at ABC Television Sports.
In March 1955 he enlisted in the United States Army, serving at Fort Riley. On Aug. 16, 1955 he was united in marriage to Betsy Goodwin. After his honorable discharge in March 1957, they returned to Columbia City. Mrs. Gates died Aug. 20, 2010.
In addition to many years of practicing law, he also served as city court judge. He also had represented Whitley County Memorial Hospital Board and served as the attorney for the Whitley County Consolidated School Board for many years.
His more than 50-year memberships included Columbia City United Methodist Church where he was active with numerous church activities, Columbia City Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks #1417 where he served as Past Exalted Ruler and the American Bar Association. He was a former member and past president of Columbia City Rotary and the President of the Old Settlerâ€™s Day Association in 1967.
Ben and his wife founded the local chapter of Compassionate Friends and he was also a founding director of Whitley County Community Foundation.
Other memberships included Indiana State Bar and member of its Board of Managers; Appointed by the Governor to Probate Study Commission where he was a member for nine years, serving as chairman for two; American College of Trusts and Estates Council, serving as Indiana State Chairman; Lecturer at Notre Dame Tax Institute and American College of Trust and Estates Council; member of the House of Burgesses at Colonial Williamsburg; and Presidentâ€™s Club member at University of Michigan and University of Miami of Ohio.
Surviving relatives include a son and two daughters, Benton E. (Janet) Gates III of Fort Wayne, Mary Lynn (Gary) Pottorff of Carmel and Marti (Kent) Lundy of Huntington; six grandchildren, Betsy Lynn Pottorff Dammeier, Gregory W. Pottorff, Alex D. Williams, Benjamin L. Williams, Joshua Wesley Lundy and Nathan Charles Lundy; a great granddaughter, Makenna Dammeier; and a sister, Linda (William) Sabo of Franklin.
In addition to his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by a daughter, Betsy Jayne Gates and a brother, Richard W. Gates.
The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Columbia City United Methodist Church, 605 West Forest Parkway with the Rev. David Arnold, officiating. The burial will be in Greenhill Cemetery. The visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Smith & Sons Funeral Home, Columbia City and one hour before the service at the church.
Preferred memorials are to Columbia City United Methodist Church or Betsy Jayne Gates Scholarship Fund c/o Whitley County Community Foundation.
Condolences may be sent to www.smithandsonsfuneralhome.com.