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Albert Bates - Portrait

Albert Bates
1903 - 1986

From 1954 to 1972, Albert Bates was a custodian in the Ferndale School District, serving at Lincoln, 1956-68, and at Washington Elementary, 1969 until his retirement in 1972. Recalled by the principal of Washington as “a quiet man, energetic, and a pleasure to work with,” Bates was also known for his masterful calligraphy in producing any signs that were needed around the building.

Born in Birmingham, England, January 24, 1903, Bates first worked in Britain’s fur trade, served in the British Army during World War II, and later traveled throughout Europe--visiting opera houses (La Boheme was his favorite opera) and sketching buildings and landscape scenes. In the early 1950s he and his family moved to 1666 Albany, Ferndale. Renderings in crayon, pencil, and watercolor of homes and buildings, including his favorite European churches and cathedrals, remained a focus throughout his life in Ferndale. Bates became a U.S. citizen in 1960. Upon his retirement in 1972, he and his wife returned to Staffordshire, England, to live. He passed away April 28, 1986.

In the late 1950s his work was displayed in Lincoln High School. His painting of Notre Dame, Paris, still remains a prized possession of the Robert Gray family, former Ferndale residents. The Bates rendering of Lincoln High School is the sole original painting of a local school in the Museum’s collection—and possibly in the city.

The watercolor of Lincoln High School was a gift to the Museum from Leonard Popa whose father Felix, boiler operator at Ferndale High School, had once been Bates’s colleague. Originally the painting was a gift from Bates to his friend Felix and for years had hung in Felix’s office. Ultimately, Leonard felt that the painting “belonged to the residents of Ferndale” as a reminder of an iconic school in the city--and as a fitting tribute to a respected local artist unfamiliar to most people today, but one who profoundly captured the essence of a special time in Ferndale history.

Albert Bates - Watercolor
Watercolor: Lincoln High School, 1956

Albert Bates - Chalk Pastel
Chalk Pastel: Store: Matley's son-in-law surname. Fishing is son-in-law Ken

Albert Bates - Watercolor
Watercolor: post 1972,
The Halls Croft, Stratford on Avon


Albert Bates - Pen and Ink
Pen and Ink: "Old Forge Cottage"

Albert Bates - Tapestry
Tapestry: to honor eldest daughter
Sandra's Christening, 1953

Albert Bates - Watercolor
Watercolor: The Tetons, Wyoming 1960s

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