Mr. Jerry Gates, age 75, of Wewahitchka, FL passed away peacefully on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at his residence in Gulf County.
Mr. Gates was born on May 22, 1944 in Blountstown, Florida. He was cared and loved for by the late Mrs. Vina Owens, his beloved Grandmother. He was a proud graduate of Blountstown High School, where he was a star athlete for the basketball and football teams. A few of his accomplishments while at Blountstown includes a 1960 State Championship where he scored the two winning points in overtime, a record for most points scored in a game (54) which he still holds, and a whole collection of Most Valuable Player awards, All Big Bend awards, and numerous others. Upon graduation he attended the University of Florida on a full athletic and academic scholarship to continue his basketball career as a Florida Gator. This would prove to be a lifelong obsession as he went on to be a Bull Gator Booster for the majority of his life. He obtained his degree with a major in Business Administration and minored in Accounting. He was a wiz with numbers!
In his early life he owned and operated the Gates Fish Camp of the Dead Lakes in Wewahitchka, FL. where people from all over the world visited to enjoy the good fishing and camaraderie that Jerry had to offer. He was secretary-treasurer to the Dead Lakes Water Management Board for Gulf and Calhoun County. He revived the fight to remove the Dead Lakes Dam that negatively impacted the fishing on the Chipola River. He was former director of the Florida National Bank in Port St. Joe, Fl. He served as Gulf County’s Finance Director for 8 years before being elected to the Clerk of the Court in 1980. He was the first Republican to ever be elected in Gulf County. Upon retirement from the clerk of courts, he ran for Chief Financial Officer for the state of Florida. He sold half ownership of a racehorse to pay the fee. He won the primary election where he spent just $225, of which was his own money, for his campaign because he refused to accept a dime from even friends and family, but went on to lose the general election by a mere 1,000 votes. Jerry was known for his maverick spirit, idealism and indignation for the people. The amazing story of his life and legacy could go on for pages.
He is survived by his four children, Jon Curtis Gates, Patrick Gates and his wife Jennifer Wright, Ashley Gates, and Chad Gates all whom he quoted to be his “magic”; very beloved grandchildren, Johonna Tran and Paislynn Gates; sister Joey Gates Walters and numerous nieces and nephews. Jerry’s memory will continue to bring joy to those who knew him. Just about anyone who had the pleasure of meeting Jerry, has a Jerry story to tell. His memorial service was held Friday, October 4, 2019 at the First Baptist Church in Blountstown, FL at 11 a.m. He was one for the books! Arrangements are under the direction of Marlon Peavy at Peavy Funeral Home in Blountstown, FL.