With his coaching, teaching, and leadership throughout the years, he had a positive influence and made a profound difference in many lives. He was a man of great distinction, but proud to be a country boy. He had developed a love for golf and was known for his impeccable, snazzy outfits and white shoes.
He was a member of the Ocoee Lodge No. 212, where he was a 32nd Degree Mason. He was also a charter member of Scottish Rite, Chattanooga Consistory.
He served as a deacon at First Baptist Church in Cleveland, and was director of the young married couples’ Sunday school department for 10 years. He was a veteran of the United States Army.
He was a star athlete at Polk County High School and went on to play football at Tennessee Wesleyan College, as well as minor league baseball. He graduated from Tennessee Tech University and continued his education at Peabody College in Nashville with a master’s degree in education administration.
He began his career in education as a coach and teacher at Polk County High School and later served as superintendent of schools — assuming that position at age 31. He then joined the Tennessee Department of Education where he served for 39 1/2 years, eventually serving as director of the Southeast District Office of Education.
He was past president of the Polk County Alumni Association. He was inducted into the Polk County High School Hall of Fame in 2000. He was a charter member of Polk County Education Foundation and served on the board of trustees until his death.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles E. and Georgia Brown Bates; and a sister, Jean Propst.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Josephine (Jo) Livoti Bates of Cleveland; son, William L. Miller (Bill) and wife, Cheryl of Chattanooga; daughter, Janie Miller Arms of Cleveland; granddaughter, Rachel Miller-Tester and husband, Robbie Tester of Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., Rachel’s mother, Dr. Phyllis E. Miller of Chattanooga; and precious great-grandson, Jaxson Tester of Fort Oglethorpe.
The funeral will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in the chapel of Ralph Buckner Funeral Home with the Rev. Jim Gibson officiating.
Interment will follow in Benton Cemetery with Steve Gibson, Bill Hamilton, Tom Hunt, T. Roy Jones, Dr. George Nerren and Matt Witt serving as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers will be former high school student athletes when he was coaching at Polk County High School.
A white dove release ceremony will conclude the service.
The family will receive friends from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home prior to the service.
We invite you to send a message of condolence and view the family guest book at www.ralphbuckner.com.