WAKEFIELD — Stephen Gates, long time resident of Wakefield, passed away after a brief illness on October 10, 2021.
Steve was a ‘baby boomer,’ born in Brooklyn, NY on October 2, 1945, to the late Norbert S. and Rose M Gates. The family moved to New Milford, NJ, and later to Hopkinton, MA, where he spent his high school years. A good athlete, Steve played varsity football, basketball and baseball in high school, forming strong friendships with classmates that remained throughout his life. He joined the Air Force after graduation, then followed his dad into the printing business. Starting as a press tender, he became president and part owner of a printing company that won international awards for its patent of a unique prismatic imaging process, a forerunner of holograms.
Steve retired early and spent the remainder of his life in volunteer work. He got involved with the Woodville Elementary School, serving on the PTO and school building committee. When his daughter was in kindergarten, he began showing up each morning to greet parents and students at their vehicles, opening the doors and escorting them safely into school. His daughter is several years past her college degree and until his recent illness, Steve was still at the school every day. As soon as he finished his duties at Woodville School, he’d travel to Odyssey Day School where his grandson’s attended preschool and another daughter taught. He’d arrive at noon each day to feed babies and rock them to sleep. Those boys are now in high school, but Steve still rocked on for more than 10 years until this hospitalization.
He was an energetic supporter of the Wakefield High School Marching Band and could be counted on to load equipment and drive the trucks to meets as far away as Disney World. You might have noticed him in his band jacket that said ‘Roadie.’ He owned three Santa suits and wore them enthusiastically to many civic celebrations. He was one of the first Santas on the popular Wakefield Music Booster’s Polar Express fundraiser train ride, from Woburn to North Station.
As a member of the First Parish Congregational Church of Wakefield, Steve stood out for his level of commitment. He served as chairman of the Board of Trustees, member of numerous committees, and shepherd of the community dinners held bi-annually for the needy. He was a fixture at Sunday service in his three-piece suit, even when the outside temps were pushing 100. Steve was the consummate usher, coffee maker, table mover, and anything else that needed doing. He defined what the word service meant.
Steve is survived by his daughters: Christine Waddell and fiancé Bruce Murphy of Tewksbury, Jennifer Sovie and husband Chris of Tewksbury, Erin Gates and partner Nicholas Barrett-Miller of Northfield, Vt. and son-in-law Gregory Speck of South Dakota. He was predeceased by his eldest daughter Pamela Speck. He leaves behind sisters Sharon O’Connor (Charles) of Winchester, Kathleen Grass (Peter) of Southborough and brother Gerald (Patricia) of Princeton, MA. Steve was a proud Grampy to Amber and husband Bryce, Johnny and fiancé Angela, Brandon, Jack, Alex and Owen as well as his new great granddaughter, Pamela June. He was a favorite uncle to many nieces and nephews.
Visiting hours will be held at the First Parish Congregational Church, 1 Church St., Wakefield, MA on Thursday, Oct. 14 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Funeral service Friday at 11 a.m. at the First Parish Congregational Church, 1 Church St., Wakefield, MA. Masks are required and social distancing is requested while in the church.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Steve’s memory may be made to the Wakefield Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 1752, Wakefield MA 01880 or to the First Parish Congregational Church, 1 Church St, Wakefield MA 01880
Funeral arrangements are through the Anderson-Bryant Funeral Home in Stoneham, MA.