Robert “Bob” Tate closed out his last story on May 12, 2021, after a year-long battle with liver cancer. Bob was born in Modesto, California (one of the true ‘Californians’), number 11 of 12 children. Bob and his family grew up on the East Side of Turlock, CA, with very little to their name, he began shining shoes at age 5 (as Bob would call himself, “self-employed”) to help out. At age 17, he somehow managed to pull a quick one and enlisted in the US Navy, serving on the USS Helena, skipping out on the remainder of high school. He traveled the world for his 3 years enlisted and quickly excelled, while of course creating some stories for the road. In 1960, Bob married the love and joy of his life, Marie Louise Mitchell (who in his own words “was far too good looking for me”).
Bob worked alongside two of his older brothers, Harry and Gene, running their family-owned grocery chain, Tate Brother’s Market. What Bob loved about working in the stores, was his ability to learn the grocery store system (yes, this, in fact, can be a passion), one of his favorite topics: the meat grading system, and of course, his ability to provide food for those who were not able to afford it. He would meet all those families behind the grocery store at the end of each week at close and provide them all the food that was “reaching their shelf life” in exchange for them helping him with his Spanish (and none of us speak Spanish to confirm if he ever knew what he was saying, but you know what, you just don’t question Bob).
But running a few grocery stores could never be enough adventure for Bob, so naturally, he and Marie decided to sell all of their life’s belongings and moved them and their daughters, Tracey and Toni, to Germany…. without a job. But in natural Bob fashion, he talked up a storm on the flight over from California and walked off that plane with a new friend, along with a job offer at the Department of Defense as a Commissary Officer. He continued to work his way up through DeCA for 26 years, retiring as a Senior Executive Service III all the while, continued classes at Harvard Kennedy School, Cornell Management School, and Brookings Institute. In 2000, he was awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award, presented to Bob directly by President Bill Clinton. Bob continued to work supporting the US Commissary system, up until 2016 (yes, he worked until he was 80). He worked until he was 80, not because he had to, but rather for the families overseas and the support that he could bring them by ensuring the US Commissaries would be the best shopping experience in Europe.
Bob was a “do it for the story” kind of man - doing a handstand on the edge of the Grand Canyon in front of a crowd, late-night climbing the Great Pyramids with a few of his buddies, and probably his favorite story, which was knocking on the gates of Graceland yelling to the guard, “Is there any possibility we could meet Elvis? I drove all the way across the country in a VW bug with my mother-in-law and two children” (it in fact worked, for those who are wondering).
Bob and Marie moved back to the United States after 20 years in Germany, relocating to Clearwater, FL where Bob continued to make friends with every single person who ever graced Gulf Boulevard. They both then packed up again, in 2018, where they set out on their next great story… moving to Lake Oswego, Oregon. He and Marie lived down the street from Toni and her family, quickly making ’Sunday Dinners” a tradition ...though more beers and prosecco may have been drunk than any food.
While the stories are endless and for anyone who knows Bob, knows that to be true, his greatest stories are the one’s none of us know, unless you were the person there - if you were the elderly couple taking yourselves out for dinner you may have found out your meal was paid for, if you were alone in a room, you may have quickly found your new best friend, if you were homeless or short on cash, you may have found an extra $5 appear. That was just Bob - while he was all about living for the story, what we all remember him most by are the stories he did not like to share.
We would like to close this out in true Bob Tate fashion, by letting you know all of this information was passed along directly from Bob, so the truth behind it may be slightly exaggerated, but hey…. it was a great story! So to the greatest, undiscovered author, you may be done penning your own story, but we all will continue forward writing one just for you.
Bob Tate is survived by his loving wife, Marie, his two daughters, Tracey Tate Cutler (Mitchell Cutler) and Toni Tate Carideo (Jim Carideo), his baby sister, Joyce Tate Ayala, his sister-in-law, Donna Tate, his sister-in-law, Sandra Knight, his brother-in-law, Steven Mitchell, many nieces and nephews, and his 5 grandchildren: Sky Cutler, Ali Tate Bridge (married to Sam Bridge), Emily Carideo (engaged to Neil Fryer), Gianna Carideo and Tate Carideo. He is predeceased by his father, William Tate, his mother, Ora Tate, and his brothers: Tom, Harry, Fred, and Gene, and his sisters: Mamie, Naioma, Pauleen, Ruth “Jimmy”,and Lilly Belle.
Per Bob’s wishes, we will not be having a funeral service. In lieu of flowers, we instead ask that you to “Be Like Bob” and do some good for someone else, whether that be a small act of kindness, paying it forward unexpectedly, or sitting down with someone who may need a pick-me-up; some places you can donate to would be: Turlock Gospel Mission or the Humane Society of Stanislaus County.