Sunnie Bates

sunnie bates

May 21, 1926 ~ July 10, 2010

Born in: Roanoke, VA
Resided in: Roswell, GA

Sunnie Bates believed that one person could make a difference and she tried through many vocations to touch people's lives and leave the world a better place through her actions and beliefs. Though her parents, Missouri and Henry Stanley named their daughter Mary Elzaabeth in honor of her grandmothers, early in life her cheerfulness and positive attitude earned her the nickname "Sunnie". At the time of her death on Saturday, July 10 she was a resident of Roswell, GA. She was proud of her Virginia heritage, having been born and educated in Roanoke where she attended William Fleming High School and Roanoke College. In both schools she was active in theatre and jounalism. A member of the college class of 1945, she majored in Classics and excelled in extracurricular activities, being chosen the first female editor of the college newspaper when she was a seventeen year old junior. She was listed in Who's Who Among American Students. In 1993, she was the recipient of the Roanoke College Medal for lifetime accomplishments many of which had roots in campus activities and interests. Sunnie had many careers. Her first paycheck was for modeling for the N. and W. Railroad magazine and match cover when she was fifteen. After college graduation, she was a claims clerk for the Social Security Board in Roanoke and Newport News, writing retirement claims for older men who had returned to work in the shipyards during the Second World War. She worked for Blue CrosslBlue Shield until her first husband, Roy Jennings of Roanoke went to Bucknell University on the GI bill while she was a psychometrician in the Bucknell Guidance Center. When they moved to Schenectady, NY upon his graduation, she became office manager of the psychosomatic ward of Ellis Hospital. She left that post to stay home with her two children and soon became involved in school affairs, which led to becoming the school's Attendance Officer. In the early 1950's, her activism with the League of Women Voters led to a career in television. A L WV for over 50 years, she served on local and state boards in New York, Connecticut and Georgia. In 1960 Sunnie was presented the McCall's Gold Mike by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren, the highest award given to a female broadcaster at that time, for her groundbreaking series of programs on WRGB, Schenectady, in which she explored discrimination in the north and predicted the emerging civil rights struggle. She and her partner, Ernie Tetrault, earned numerous awards for their daily show which they cooproduced. Working for the world's first television station which had grown out of the GE labs, creative programming and innovation was encouraged. According to her daughter, Jill ... "Mom insisted that television was not radio with pictures and action was imperative. She allowed herself to be thrown off the station roof to demonstrate a rescue in case of fire. She drove a sulky at Saratoga Raceway, rode a circus elephant, steered the tiller of a fire engine, piloted a barge through locks near Pittsburgh, washed windows of a skyscraper and went to Spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates. She was proud of her series on adoption which led to five children being adopted by her co-workers". She was a judge or mistress of ceremony for several Miss New York pageants and accompanied the winner as chaperone and photographer to the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. She enjoyed telling friends about her interviews and friendly meetings with Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Governor and Mrs Averill Harriman, Governor and Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller, Gore Vidal, Werner von Braun, Charlton Heston, Eleanor Roosevelt, Grandma Moses, Roberta Peters, Vic Damone, Gordon Parks, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Phyllis Diller, Tallulah Bankhead, Dave Garroway, Frank Blair, Walter Cronkite, Hal Holbrook, Mr. J. C. Penney, Archbishop Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Church and many others. She was listed in Who's Who of American Women. Sunnie was Bill Bum's partner on the Noon News at KDKA in Pittsburgh, then the highest rated daytime program in the nation, when she left to marry Woody Bates and move to Atlanta in 1962. Soon thereafter, she was one of the founding members of Atlanta Planned Parenthood and served as its first Executive Director while establishing clinics throughout the city. She was co-producer of a League of Women Voters television series on China in 1972, wrote a League publication, "Georgia's Stake In World Trade". And testified before the Federal Trade Commission. It was while she was recovering from her first cancer surgery that Sunnie decided that she wanted to fill each day to the fullest, so she embarked on a career in real estate, becoming an Assistant Broker with Coldwell Banker. She retired after ten years when she could no longer carry the expanding listing books due to neuropathy and paralysis in her arm. An intense interest in Japan was shared by Sunnie and her husband, leading to many trips there and culminating in building a traditional sukiya-styled Japanese home, where they lived for 24 years. Their collection of books about Japan and the Japanese numbers in excess of 5, 000 volumes. A recent project has been the installation of a Japanese garden in their home in the Historic District of Roswell. Sunnie studied Ikenobo Japanese flower arranging as well as Japanese customs and language and spent every Monday afternoon with a group which for many years offered friendship and assistance to Japanese women in adjusting to life in this country, She and her husband were active in the Japanese community as members ofthe Japan America Society of Georgia, Dokushokai, Tomodachi, The Japanese American National Museum and as resources on Japanese culture. An avid reader, Sunnie was a member of three book clubs and until she lost the use of her right arm, she was an avid needlepointer. She was a board member of the Lighthouse Lymphedema Network, the National Lymphedema Network, Emily's List, Georgia Win and the Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Survivors beside her husband are her daughter and son-in-law, Jill Jennings and Paul Cheng, son and daughter-in-law, Jack and Pat Jennings, son and daughter-in-law, Geoffrey and Susan Bates and son and daughter-in-law, Christopher and Ling Li Bates, nine grandchildren, Gabriel, Vanessa, Diana, Morgan, Ethan, Richard, Carter, Lainie, Luke and three great grandchildren, Atticus, Wyatt and Francesca. .- .... . Because of the far flung family, a memorial service is planned for early September. In lieu of flowers please send contributions to the Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church Endowment Fund, 1025 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs, Georgia, 30327 or the Lighthouse Lymphedema Group, 10240 Crescent Ridge Drive, Roswell, GA 30076.

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