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.