David Grandon Gates, 54

2011-03-24T00:00:00Z David Grandon Gates, 54 Montana Standard
March 24, 2011 12:00 am

Dave Gates died March 19, 2011, while pursuing one of his many passions.

Born in 1956 to Albert Gates and Gertrude Oquist Gates, he grew up in Lewistown, the youngest of three boys.

After graduating from Fergus High school in 1974, Dave earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical 

engineering and engineering technology from Montana State University and a professional engineering license. He then earned his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Montana, and completed the Public Utilities Executive Course and Labor Relations School.

During his time in college, Dave played mandolin for the Part-Time Band. Members of the band remained lifelong friends and reunited many times to play music for friends and family. He was a gifted musician and also played the acoustic guitar and upright bass.

In 1992, Dave married his best friend and love of his life, Lorrie Haller. Together, with their children, Jessi and Dustin, they enjoyed many outdoor activities and special family gatherings. Dave dearly loved his family and every person in his extended family and welcomed them with open arms into his home.

Through the years, Dave served on the board of many organizations including, the Montana Board of Professional Engineers and Surveyors, Great Falls International Airport Authority, International Aviation Council and Montana Pilots Association.

He served as board president for the Montana Pilots Association Local Chapter, the MT State Pilots Association, and the St. James Hospital Board. He was chairman of the board for Aviation Organizations of Montana, the Bert Mooney Airport Board and the Physical Science Foundation. Dave was a member of Exchange Club, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Montana Society of Engineers, and Operations Executive Committee-Western Energy Institute. He sat on the committees for the Edison Electric Institute, Transmission Section and the Distribution Section.

Dave began working in Lewistown for Montana Power as a summer laborer in 1976. He worked as an engineer in Bozeman and Butte, as manager of Distribution Operations in Great Falls, and as executive director of Distribution Operations. When NorthWestern Energy purchased Montana Power, he continued his work as executive director, and then progressed to his current position of vice president of Wholesale Operations.

One of Dave’s greatest passions was flying airplanes. He loved the freedom he found in flight and introduced many young people to the joy of aviation. Dave was restoring his 1946 Piper Cruiser, which was his pride and joy, and anticipated flying it into the backcountry of Montana, which he loved. He volunteered as a mountain search pilot for Montana Aeronautics Search and Rescue and was volunteer pilot for Angel Flight West. He truly enjoyed his twin-engine Cessna, which he was flying when he incurred his fatal accident. In addition to his single engine pilot’s license, he obtained his IFR and both twin engine and commercial pilots licenses.

Dave truly lived life to its fullest. Every endeavor was treated with passion, whether it be his work, music, flying, reading, skiing, hiking, carpentry, volunteer work, projects at home, or get-togethers with his friends and family. He was an intellectual and had a thirst for knowledge, and strived to learn all he could about many aspects of life.

One of Dave’s qualities was his ability to see and acknowledge the value and potential in every person he met. He treated everyone with respect. He truly has left behind a beautiful legacy that we will honor forever.

He deeply loved our family and was equally loved in return. He is irreplaceable, but it has been an honor and a blessing to have had him in our lives. We cherish our memories of life with Dave and he will be in our hearts forever. We’ll miss you Duff.

In addition to his wife, Lorrie, he is survived by his daughter, Jessi (Brian) Brock, and son, Dustin; his brothers, Albert (Mary) Gates and John (Doreen) Gates; aunt, Ellen Sundquist; mother-in-law, Dolores Haller; brothers- in-law, Bill Haller, Carl Haller (Denise Neilson), Keith (Cindi) Haller; and sisters -in-law, Marjorie Haller, Suzy Haller (Hans Fairchild), Joni (Mike) Swisher and Toni (Eddie) Ewing. He also is survived by 20 nieces and nephews, multiple cousins and many close friends.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26, at the Mother Lode Theater, 316 W. Park St.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Angel Flight West, 3161 Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica, CA. 90405, Montana Public Radio, or First Presbyterian Church.

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Signatures

  1. riverrat
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    riverrat - March 27, 2011 5:36 pm
    I didn't know Dave but it sounds like he was a true gentleman. My heartfelt sympathy goes to his family and friends. He died doing what he loved, flying planes. Rest in peace
    Janice Muniz
  2. butte3
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    butte3 - March 25, 2011 4:32 pm
    Lorrie, my sympathies and prayers are with you and your family during this hard time. Audie James-Hall and family.
  3. Tralynrn
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    Tralynrn - March 24, 2011 10:25 pm
    To the Gates Family,
    We are so sorry to hear of your loss. Jalee and I were lucky to have your husband/dad as our Angel Pilot when she needed medical care in Spokane as an infant.
    Ed, Tracey, & Jalee Foley
  4. Bill Capp
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    Bill Capp - March 24, 2011 11:59 am

    On behalf of Beacon Power, I wish to express our sincerest sympathies to family, friends and colleagues over the tragic loss of David Gates. For the past year our company has been working closely with Northwestern Energy and we had the privilege of getting to know Dave very well. He was a man of vision and leadership. All of us are deeply saddened by his untimely passing.

    Bill Capp
    President and CEO
    Beacon Power Corp.
  5. PBonrud
    Report Abuse
    PBonrud - March 24, 2011 11:06 am
    Lorrie, Dustin, Jessi and Brian: I work with Dave at NorthWestern and will miss him greatly. Dave was so kind and supportive of everyone. I will miss his laughter, humor and friendship. God brought a beautiful soul to be with him in Heaven when he decided it was time for Dave to come home. My prayers are with you at this difficult and sad time. Take care and we are here to support you any way we can.....Pam Bonrud, Sioux Falls, SD
  6. Citationcapt
    Report Abuse
    Citationcapt - March 24, 2011 10:44 am
    Dave Gates was a true gentleman. My sympathies go out to his wife and family. He will certainly be missed.

    I had the pleasure of working with Dave at Montana Power and also sharing the flying bug with him back in the 90's at the Butte airport. Dave was a leader and an individual with integrity.

    Dave Simon
    Million Air
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  7. RDebates
    Report Abuse
    RDebates - March 24, 2011 7:05 am
    Our prayers go out to the Gates family. Dave was the last of the good guys this company will ever see. It was a true pleasure to have worked with him since the 70's, but more a privilege to call him a friend. We shared your love for him and please know we share the pain of your loss. Ron and Jamie (Radoman) DeBates, Big Timber, MT

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