FORT DEPOSIT, AL (WSFA) - The man at the center of an Alabama institution has passed away. Bill Bates, owner of Bates Turkey Farm in Fort Deposit died Monday.
Bates took over the farm from his father who started the business back in 1923. The business literally hatched, according to the family's website, when Mr. Bates' great aunt, Mamie Bates, presented nine turkey eggs to Mr. Bate's father as a wedding present.
Every year, it's always a Bates turkey that is pardoned by the Governor during Thanksgiving. The turkey always wears a name plate with "Clyde" on it. It's a tradition that has carried on since 1948.
Governor Robert Bentley and other state political leaders expressed their sympathy for the Bates family. "Bill Bates was a member of the greatest generation who loved God, his family and his country," the governor said, "...one of the finest men I knew. A veteran of World War II, Bill served his country with honesty and integrity."
"This year's ceremony won't be the same without Mr. Bates," the governor added. "Dianne & I extend our prayers to the entire Bates family during this difficult time."
"He was a member of the greatest generation who loved God, his family and his country," the governor added, "...one of the finest men I knew. A veteran of World War II, Bill served his country with honesty and integrity."
"Bill Bates lived a life that most people could only dream of living and he was loved by all who knew him," said Alabama Republican Party Chairman BIll Armistead. "He was dedicated to his family, work, and to the Republican Party. But it was his passion for turkeys that made Mr. Bates a legend across the State of Alabama."
The Bates family owns a restaurant in Greenville known as Bates House of Turkey. It's a popular spot for commuters to stop and eat while traveling down Interstate 65 in Butler County.
Bates passed away at his home in Logan at the age of 89.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Dunklin and Daniels in Greenville.