Joseph Lawrence Gates of St. George, Utah passed away on Saturday, April 30, 2022, at the age of 88. After several months of declining health and after a brief stay in the hospital, Joseph died at home with his wife Guelda and their four children by his side.
Joseph was born in Artesia, California on May 26, 1933, to father Thomas Edison Gates and mother Melba Marie Gates. The 2nd of eight children, Joseph served in the Army, stationed in Germany from 1955 to 1957. Upon his return, having a natural gift for math (as exhibited by helping his sisters with their math homework growing up) he went on to get a bachelors degree in Math and English from Brigham Young University in Provo with honors. Following graduation, he moved back to Southern California and began teaching at Ralph Bunche Middle School in Compton, eventually transferring to Lakewood High School after earning a masters degree at California State University at Long Beach in 1961.
In early 1958, Joseph met his soon to be wife, Guelda May Russell, who had moved from Idaho to live with her sister and work in Los Angeles. They married on June 21 of that year in the newly built Los Angeles temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A year later, their first child, Joseph Lawrence (Larry) was born followed a year and a half later by the birth of Jeffrey Russell and a year later by the birth of Gregory Jon. In 1963, they moved their young family to Cypress, CA in burgeoning Orange County where they became active members of the Anaheim and then newly created Cypress Stakes. Both held leadership callings in their wards and stake. In 1969, the family was blessed with their 4th child, Krista Kay who completed the family.
Around this same time, Joseph transferred to his last teaching post at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. His students came from many diverse backgrounds and he always sought to find ways to create opportunities for all of his students to learn and grow. In addition, he served as department head for many years, seeking to fairly balance the workload and class popularity among the teachers (he wouldn’t take the best and most desirable classes for himself, as can so often be the case with department heads). He retired from teaching in 1994.
After retirement, Joe and Guelda moved to Pleasant Grove, UT to be closer to their children and grandchildren. During their time there, they served as missionaries on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. They loved their home in Pleasant Grove but felt like St. George, UT would be more conducive to the life they sought regarding health and weather. In St. George, Joe took on a part-time job at the Sun River Community in facility operation where he worked until just a few years ago. Music being another one of his interests and talents, he joined the all-male singing choir, Master Singers of St. George, with whom he sung for over 22 years.
Joseph was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers Thomas and Richard and half-sister Virginia. He is survived by his wife, Guelda Russell Gates; his sons Joseph Lawrence (Larry) Gates, Jeffrey Russell Gates (Leslie), Gregory Jon Gates, and Krista Kay Yates (Ron); grandchildren James Gates, Jennifer Gates, Tyler Gates, Jordan Yates, Joshua Yates, Sarah Yates, Spencer Yates, and Evelyn Yates; great-grandchildren Aris Gates, Kimber Gates, Daisy Gates, Asher Gates, Michael (Max) Woolley, Greyson Woolley, Eli Yates, and Oryn Yates.
Funeral services will be Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 1 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 124 North Valley View Drive, St. George, Utah 84770. A viewing will be prior to services at the same location from 11:30am-12:45pm. Interment will be Tonaquint Cemetery, under the direction of McMillan Mortuary 435-688-8880.
The family would like to extend a special thanks to the physicians, nurses and hospice caregivers for their compassionate care and guidance.
The funeral service will be live-streamed, please click on the link below.
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