Harry Preston Pate

H. Preston Pate, age 87, Joplin, MO. Passes on November 19, 2022. Born October 30, 1935, the son of the late Harry L. Pate and Elizabeth Leffen Pate, each of whom were pioneer Joplin families, making Preston a 4th generation Joplinite.

Preston was a 1953 graduate of Joplin High School where he played football, basketball and tennis. As the starting quarterback on Russ Kaminsky’s 1952 Eagle football team, his 62 – yard touchdown run was the only score in the traditional Joplin – Springfield Thanksgiving game. He said that he bled red and green and this was his 15 minutes of fame.

In 1957 he received his banking and finance degree from Washington & Lee University, Lexington, VA. He played football, ran track and was co-captain of the latter. He was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity where he was house manager, treasurer and president. He did additional graduate work at New York University, the Graduate School of Banking – University of Wisconsin and the Columbia University Bank Management School.

He started his banking career at The Irving Trust Company, now Bank of New York Mellon, New York, New York where he interned. He returned to Joplin in 1958 to begin a 32-year banking career at the First National Bank, now U.S. Bank. He rose through the ranks, retiring in 1990 as President & CEO.

He is a member of the First Presbyterian Church. He was formerly a member of the Joplin Rotary Club where his grandfather Preston Pate was a charter member when the Joplin club was founded in 1916. He served on the YMCA Board of Directors for 25 years and as its President twice. He was instrumental in raising $1.5M to completely rehab the downtown facility, thus ensuring the Y would remain viable. He was a member of the Freeman Hospital Board of Directors that caused the new hospital to be built in 1975. He became President of the board in 1976-1977. He was a member of the Joplin Chamber of Commerce as well as the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. He was a charter member of the Port Grove Sailing Club and its successor the Grand Lake Sailing Club. He served 8 years active and reserve duty in the U.S. Army, field artillery, retiring as a captain.

He was an avid sailor, competing in regattas from Lake of the Woods, Canada to Lake Pontchartrain, LA. Additionally, he and his family enjoyed bare boat chartering in the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands. He was an enthusiastic duck and quail hunter, breeding and training his dogs for hunting and horseback field trials. He also judged field trials. To conclude his avocations, Preston took up snow skiing in his mid- 60’s, becoming a strong intermediate skier. He spent winters in Colorado, skiing up to 50 days a year until age 79.

He married Jeanne McPherson September 26, 1959. She passed away October 30, 2004 after a 20 – year struggle with Alzheimer’s.  Preston was “Uncle Preston” to his second wife, Carolyn Woodard Keeter, children; Candy Lepper, Ann Thelen, Dan Keeter and Kristi Giles. Other surviving family members include his sister Ann Stevens and brother-in-law Henry Robertson. Surviving nieces, nephews and their spouses are Susannah and Ray Pitman, Marti and David Fuchs, Rob and Tami Robertson, and David and Beth Bahner.

Preston enjoyed large holiday family gatherings at his beloved Quail Run.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be presented to the Joplin Family Y in the care of the mortuary.

A private memorial service will be held. Cremation arrangements are under the direction of Parker Mortuary.

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