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Melvin "Mel" Pate Jr. '58 November 15, 2021 1:52 PM updated: November 15, 2021 2:48 PM

Melvin Jay “Tootie” Pate, Jr., DDS
June 17, 1936 - October 31, 2021

Mel passed quietly and without fanfare to the Heavens on 31 October 2021. He had not been feeling well for some time, but he never complained. On 29 September, after working 1/2 day and driving over fifty miles home, he told me he could not catch his breath. That is where his final journey began. Over the next month, he attempted to fight off lung problems which lead to pneumonia, and septic shock in Lufkin and finally, Baylor St Luke’s hospital in the Texas Medical Center, Houston.

Born the second child of Melvin Jay Pate, Sr., and Annie Laura “Bill” (Kennedy) on 17 June 1936 in Palestine, TX. He grew into a popular, good-looking, high school football player, in Gladewater, TX where he graduated high school. He was a mild-mannered, intelligent young man who dated during his years of high school, Kilgore Junior College and at Texas A & M. Earning a BS degree in Wildlife Management at which time went to work as a Wildlife Biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife trapping Bighorn Sheep in Arizona to reestablish the Bighorn Sheep population in Big Bend and later conducting deer and Black Bear surveys in East Texas. He jumped to take a job as a teacher and coach in North Texas because of the tremendous increase in his salary. Several years later he was awarded a National Science Foundation Scholarship at Texas A&M earning a master’s degree in Education.

Marrying Darla Kaye Davis of Pearland, TX, in 1959, Tootie began his family. His first son, Rolland Jay born in (1961), Melissa (Brown), Wimberley, TX.; Next came the first of two daughters, Danean, (1963), (John Sullenger), New Braunfels, TX.); and Shary Gay, (1964), (Lindsay Davis,) Houston. Mel’s marriage ended in 1969 during his first year of Dental School, (The University of Houston Dental Branch) 1972, Houston, TX.

We first met at Christmas time 1969. He was not impressive with a beer belly and a 1950’s wardrobe. We both worked at Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. He was attempting to date my roommate. We started sharing mealtimes at Hermann and he began doing my dentistry. One thing led to another, he was sweet and so exceedingly kind, we grew to care for each other, started dating and were married on 13 November 1970. Shannon Wayne (1969), Houston, my son, became Mel’s second son. Our first daughter, Terri Jaye “T J” was born in 1971, (James R. “Jim” Hunt,) Benton, AR., followed by Kelly Ann, 1972, (Joel D Hetzer), Rohnert Park, CA. which made a total of six children (in case you are counting). He loved and adored every one of his children and was enormously proud of their accomplishments, though he didn’t always tell them.

Mel and Danean travelled to see Rolland receive a master’s degree in Amsterdam, then the three of them toured several European landmarks before returning to the States. Quiet Mel, talked incessantly about that trip for months. Tootie attended as many of his children’s activities as possible, often driving miles from one to another’s-to-another’s activity within the same day. Most students referred to him as simply “Daddy Pate.” He was always there.

One day while talking to his brother, Bob '55, (Houston) the two got into a discussion over who was their mom’s favorite child. Each thought it was the other, but both agreed it was their sister, Linda Gay (Hendrixson), Archer City, TX. His sister, Dona (deceased) always thought she (Dona) should be her mom and dad’s favorite child.

Mel liked golf, football, hunting and soccer, but he loved fishing (mostly Large Mouth Bass). He was often with one or more of the grandchildren in the boat or on the dock pulling in a fish. It thrilled him to teach them how to fish. He always said, “I love all kinds of sports, but if the weather is right for golf, it’s even better for fishing.”

The most important thing to know about Tootie is that he was a kind, sweet, loving, well-mannered, and a gracious Christian man. We loved each other. We were the luckiest two people, sharing an incredible fifty-one years. He cherished all six of his children. and adored his six grandchildren, Lauren, Leslie, Kennedy Rudolph, Carter Hawley, Devon, and Payten Hunt. Tootie’s siblings, nieces, and nephews loved and respected him. He was an avid Aggie who treasured his friends.

A Celebration of Mel’s life will be held at First Christian Church of Lufkin, 1300 So. 1st Street, Lufkin, TX 75901 on 13 November 2021 at 11:00 AM. Please wear a mask over your nose and mouth. Dress in cheerful, bright, and comfortable clothing. This is not a funeral; it is a celebration. No suits. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to First Christian Church of Lufkin — General fund (fcclufkin.com/donate); Texas Parks and Wildlife (tpwd.texas.gov/donate); or Rotary District 5910 or District 5730, (Rotary.org/donate).

 

© Copyright 2021 The Lufkin Daily News



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