Clarence Delle "C. Delle" Bates, Jr., formerly of Orange
Last updated 5/5/2023 at 12:57pm
“The most interesting thing about artists is how they live.” ~ Marcel Duchamp
Clarence Delle Bates, Jr., known to most as ‘C. Delle,’ was an artist who lived an interesting life. Above all, he was an infinitely loving father and grandfather. C. Delle was known for his sweetness, generosity, kindness, gentleness, curiosity, humility, and grace. To know him was to know his sweetness. C. Delle sweetly and gently made his way Home on April 24, 2023, surrounded by the love of his three children.
“Every artist was first an amateur.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
C. Delle’s journey began October 1, 1943, in Winnfield, Louisiana. For the first two years of his life, C. Delle knew only the gentleness and loving-kindness of his mother, Edith Edna (Parker) Bates, and her parents, Little Mama and Little Papa, while his father, Clarence Delle Bates, Sr., served in World War II. C. Delle was the heartbeat of his mother’s and grandparents’ worlds, and his sweetness grew in the soft sunlight of their kindness and adoration. After his father returned home from the war, C. Delle eventually became the oldest of five siblings, whom he loved tenderly and protected fiercely.
“Action is the foundational key to all success.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Third grade was a pivotal year in C. Delle’s life. He learned that he possessed gifts, and he learned to share them. C. Delle’s third-grade teacher recognized his bright spark of intelligence and creativity, and she encouraged him to continue to learn and draw and create. It made all the difference in his young life. C. Delle spoke of his third-grade teacher many times throughout the years and stressed the profound significance she had on the trajectory of his life. Her encouragement inspired him to follow his curiosity and embark on his creative journey. That same school year, 8-year-old C. Delle took his first job working for the neighborhood grocer. He was a keen observer and recognized a clear correlation between his willingness to work and his ability to have the things he desired. He loved payday. What he loved most was sharing what he earned. C. Delle was regularly seen tucking money into Little Mama’s apron pocket or pressing it into his mother’s hand. He recognized at a tender age that his greatest joy was found in giving.
“The position of an artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.” ~ Piet Mondrian
C. Delle continued into adulthood with service as his guiding principle. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, he enlisted in the Army National Guard. He recalled being in the mess hall when he heard the news of President Kennedy’s assassination. The turbulence of the times prompted him to redouble his efforts to foster peace and understanding, cooperation and duty. After sustaining injuries from a serious auto accident, C. Delle was honorably discharged. He often expressed that he wished he could have stayed and served longer.
“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” ~ Vincent van Gogh
C. Delle soon met his future wife, Geraldene Davis, an elegant beauty from Orange, Texas. He proposed to her in December of 1967, on the banks of the Cane River, twinkling with Christmas lights from the famous annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival. Geraldene, whom he called Gerry, took her time and responded with a yes seven months later in the summer of 1968. They married on October 4, 1968. C. Delle and Gerry had three children – DeLisa, Kelli, and Brandon - and settled in Orange in 1979, where they raised their family. C. Delle and Gerry created a home filled with fun and love, where their children’s friends came and went freely, where morning devotionals were common, and laughter infused the atmosphere. They were both witty comedians and kept each other on their toes. Being funny enough to make either of them genuinely laugh was one of their children’s most rewarding childhood endeavors. Although C. Delle and Gerry eventually divorced, they remained the closest of friends. C. Delle took care of Gerry for the remainder of her life and was at her side when she crossed into eternity in 2012. In his final days, he expressed sweet anticipation at rejoining her in eternity and made known his wish to be placed as closely to her as possible in his earthly resting place.
“Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
~ Chuck Close
Before settling in Orange, C. Delle worked for a time as a foreman in a Georgia Pacific plywood plant, where he learned the ins and outs of making plywood and had some ideas about how the process may be improved. He later went to work at Quaker Oats in Houston. It was there that he had a eureka moment and realized how agricultural products similar to those used in making cereal could be used as “extenders” in plywood glue, extending the life of the glue and saving manufacturers and consumers money. C. Delle began his business, Bates Marketing, in July of 1977 with three months of savings for household expenses. His plan worked. He remained self-employed for the rest of his career life, brought fresh innovation to the plywood industry, and also created extenders using byproducts that would have otherwise been ecologically wasteful. C. Delle was a busy man, but he rarely, if ever, missed a choir concert, baseball game, or teacher meeting. C. Delle originally worked out of his home and taught his elementary school-aged children how to answer the business phones, take messages, place orders, book trucks, and daily read The Wall Street Journal to track several agricultural commodities on a large, hanging, hand-written chart. He would sometimes let his children skip school to help with running his office. He only fired them one time, when they were teenagers, but he rehired them the next day.
“Life is art. Art is life. I never separate it.” ~ Ai Weiwei
C. Delle sold his company in 1995 and finally had the luxury of devoting his full time and attention to his greatest passion – painting. During a very recent family game night, he spoke about what he considered the greatest achievement of his life. Other than raising his children with endless love and kindness, taking excellent care of Gerry until her death, and being the center of his only grandchild Jordan’s heart, he reported that his greatest achievement was his body of artistic work. C. Delle’s work is notable for its boldness of color and vastness of theme. From the sacred and saintly to imaginative landscapes and wondrous depictions of nature to lively renderings of strong and elegant women to his much beloved interpretations of the slow, colorful life in his adopted home of Orange, his works burst with fantastical hues, forms, and emotions – very much like his own life. C. Delle’s work has been exhibited far and wide, but his greatest satisfaction has always come from sharing his work in Orange.
“I paint flowers so they will not die.” ~ Frida Kahlo
C. Delle is preceded in death by his parents, Clarence Delle Bates, Sr., and Edith Edna (Parker) Bates; brother, Garold Bates; and mother of his children and best friend, Geraldene Bates.
He is survived by his daughters, DeLisa Khea Harris and husband Paul of San Marcos, Texas, and Kelli Dionne Bates of Orange; son, Simeon Brandon Delle Bates of Orange; granddaughter, Jordan Simone Bates of San Marcos, Texas; siblings, Rhonda Bates Russell, George Bates and wife Shirley, and Tom Paul Bates; and numerous other loving family and friends.
Following a private family memorial, a celebration of C. Delle’s life will be planned for his beloved friends and cherished community of Orange to share farewells and be uplifted by his life-affirming creativity and legacy of sweetness, kindness, generosity, gentleness, and beauty. All who were touched by his kindness will be welcomed to remember C. Delle’s honorable, artfully lived life.
“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi