Florence L. (Dubois) Bates, 96, completed her life’s journey on July 10, 2021 at Sippican Healthcare Center.
Loving mother to Richard Bates of Mattapoisett, Eric Bates and his wife Maureen of Vallejo, CA; grandmother to Rachel Bates and partner Dylan of Seekonk, MA; and numerous nieces and nephews. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her siblings, Blanche Constant, Dora Blanchette, Roland Dubois, daughter-in-law Ruth Bates and grandson Forest Bates.
If “Life Is A Beach” then Brandt Beach was THE BEACH in Florence Bates’s life. Born in New Bedford on October 22, 1924, Florence and her husband, Bob, purchased land at Brandt Beach in 1954 and began the three year adventure of building their future home. Florence was at Bob’s side for every step of construction, from land clearing to shingling the roof, while simultaneously caring for two small children. Finally, in February of 1957, she took residence in what was to be her home for the next 64 years.
In the lifetime that followed, Florence provided swimming instruction first to her own children and then to dozens of other children and sometimes their children’s children! Her children could often determine her location by standing outside the house and waiting to hear her inimitable laugh usually emanating from the direction of the beach. Being in or near water and surrounded by children was her heaven. Her granddaughter put it best. “Did I visit in winter? In my memories it is always summer at Meme’s house.”
Yet, winter did come, as it must in New England, and with Buzzards Bay no longer hospitable for swimming, Florence could be still be found doing laps or performing water aerobics in the pool at the New Bedford Y with a close group of friends. When Florence was not swimming or boating with her husband, she would walk – and walk she did – daily, to the Pillars and back, well into her 90s. She was also an avid card player, a graceful dancer, a seamstress, and an unabashed crooner of tunes from her heyday. While she won’t exactly be remembered as a cook, she did make some delicious chow mien candy and a mean French-Canadian meat pie!
There is no way to sum up nearly 97 years of existence, no litany of accomplishments or experiences that will convey the essence of a person. Florence had plenty of stories from her long life, but mostly she was content to live simply and was happiest when the weather was fine and she could hear you laugh.
If “It takes a village to raise a child” the same must be said for elderly care. Florence was beneficiary of visits from countless neighbors who often arrived with home cooked meals and sweets while quietly checking in to ensure she was “OK”. Her niece, Jane, was a joyful and “constant” presence in her later life and a great source of comfort. During the last five years of her life, Florence also welcomed aides into her home and these wonderful women became her new best friends. Special thanks to Lucy, Valerie, Grace, Lora and Kelly who were key in allowing mom to fulfill her desire to remain at home.
A celebration of Florence’s life will take place at her Brandt Beach homestead in August. Date and details will be forthcoming.
In keeping with Florence’s desire to keep children safe and comfortable while in the water, please consider a memorial contribution to your local YMCA swimming program.
Private arrangements are with the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home For Funerals. For full obituary go to www.saundersdwyer.com.