Elzie Bates was born at home April 6, 1931, in McComb, Mississippi. His birth was never officially recorded so for most of his adult life, his many friends celebrated his birthday on the day of Elzie's choosing: Dec 30.
His mother, Rosa Bates, sent him to Chicago when he was a young man. A loving mother, she feared for his safety if he remained in the Jim Crow South.
Although he had little formal education, Elzie thrived in Chicago. He became a renaissance man. The arts enriched his life. He loved all kinds of music and was known to search the bins at Rose Records looking for a specific artist, be it disco or gospel. Elzie learned to play classical piano, with Chopin and Lizst his favorite composers. He also was a self-taught artist, painting in his own contemporary style, and very proud of what his brushes could do.
He became a property manager for the City of Chicago's Department of Housing, where he worked for many years helping families who needed to be relocated.
Later in his life he befriended John Kobus. Together, they traveled the country. Through John, he met many people who worked at St. Mary's Hospital. When John died, their many friends embraced and supported Elzie. They remained close to him even as his health began to deteriorate.
Elzie died on Jan. 22, 2021, just shy of his 90th birthday. He was loved by many and will be missed by all. A celebration of Elzie's life will be held this summer when we've recovered from this pandemic and can be together again. We'll remember his life, his heart and the kindness and generosity he brought to everyone who knew him.
Arrangements by Cremation Society of Illinois, 773-281-5058 or www.cremation-society.com