Contributor to 'Band of Brothers' dies

By ANGEL MCCURDY | Northwest Florida Daily News | Published: February 16, 2013

MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. — Roy Gates Jr. had his share of adventures, including some that were included in a famous book and television mini-series.

Gates was a second lieutenant with 101st Airborne Division’s Easy Company during World War II. His memories were included in Stephen Ambrose’s 1992 book “Band of Brothers,” which was became an HBO mini-series in 2001.

He died Feb. 7 in Miramar Beach at the age of 91, leaving behind a legacy of heroic actions and epic tales.

“We had a good time knowing him,” said friend Karen McGee, who has helped Gates’ family plan his memorial service. “He had a good run at it.”

As a child, Gates spent two years in boarding school in Paris while his father worked on films in Europe. He even became friends with the son of Ernest Hemmingway.

“He liked to tell us that even though people thought Hemmingway was mean, to the kids he was nice and would make sure they knew about fishing,” McGee said.

Gates attended Texas A&M when the college was only male cadets. He graduated in 1943 before joining the military.

He was with Easy Company when it freed survivors at several concentration camps near the end of the war. He also was one of the soldiers who went to Eagle’s Nest — Adolph Hitler’s private retreat — in the final days.

“His unit was in charge of liquor,” McGee said, laughing. “There was all kinds stored there, fine wine, brandy. He used to joke that they put the right person in charge.”

“What did I do with it?” Gates said in an interview in 2011. “Drank it.”

After the war, Gates had two daughters, Anne Dannaker and Hellen Jane Martin. He was a salesman and made a habit even in his later years of knowing the name of every person he encountered.

“Even when we went to restaurants he’d make sure to know everyone,” McGee said. “At the nursing center he was at (Grand Boulevard Health and Rehab), he knew every nurse, every administrator and every resident.”

Gates retired in Santa Rosa Beach and joined the Camel Club and Bike Club. McGee said even into his early 80s, Gates would bike seven to eight miles a day.

A memorial service for Gates will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Camel Club at 247 E. Hewitt Road in Santa Rosa Beach.

“Roy was a charming man and he was very proud of all his accomplishments,” McGee said. “He’s been all around and he really loved this area.”