Gary Gately Obituary

Gary  Gately
Gary Gately
Gary Gately

September 11, 1935 - October 6, 2021
Born in Lincoln, NE
Resided in Des Moines, IA
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Gary Gately passed on October 6, 2021 in the caring company of family friends and his loving wife.

Gary was born in Lincoln, Nebraska on September 11, 1935 to Charles “Chuck” and Ida May (Flader) Gately. His parents were high school teachers at a Lincoln high school— His mom taught English and his father was a teacher and the school’s football coach. Gary’s father, a former quarterback on the University of Nebraska football team, had coached the high school team to the all-state football championship and his parents decided after that it was a good time to change location and professions. When Gary was three years old, the family moved to Greene County, Iowa.

Gary enjoyed an idyllic childhood in the county seat town of Jefferson, Iowa. His parents owned and operated a dime store—Gately’s 5 to $1.00--located on the town square. Gary learned many valuable lessons from his genial father and his energetic mother about operating a successful business as well as the importance of being involved in one’s community.

After high school, Gary, an only child from a small town, was encouraged by his parents to enroll in nearby Iowa State University. However, Gary’s desire had always been to attend the University of Iowa, a goal he successfully persuaded his parents to allow him to accomplish after his sophomore year. After spending a glorious summer at the University of Colorado in Boulder, taking accounting and business classes that would allow him to change majors from Architecture, which he had studied at Iowa State, he transferred to the U. of Iowa and majored in Accounting, graduating with a B.S. in Business in 1957. From then on he loved his Hawkeyes.

While at U. of Iowa, Gary continued his fun-filled membership in the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, which he had joined while at Iowa State. Another Greek-related activity was serving as a houseboy at the Tri Delt sorority, probably his most favorite job after the practice of law. He also performed heartfelt duties at a job he held in the pediatric unit of the University of Iowa hospital.

No doubt Chuck and Ida May were hopeful that Gary’s accounting degree would lead him back to Jefferson and the Gately dime store, however, upon graduation Gary enrolled in the U. of Iowa Law School. His law school education was temporarily deferred while he enlisted and served 6 months in the Army. He later served in the Army Reserve. The majority of Gary’s time on active duty was spent perfecting skills as a flamethrower on the beaches of Fort Ord on Monterey Bay, CA. This duty location, plus weekend forays with Army buddies to San Francisco, provided him the opportunity for an almost perfect military experience. Later on, to his relief, his Military Specialty was changed to clerk typist, while he was in law school.

Upon graduation from law school in 1960, Gary was immediately hired by the law firm, now known as Whitfield and Eddy, in Des Moines, IA and he never left. When he started at the firm there were seven partners and Gary, the only associate.

Sixty years later, when Gary retired as the senior partner in 2020, Whitfield and Eddy had become one of the largest law firms in Iowa with 50 lawyers and over 100 staff members and he was one of the oldest practicing attorneys in Des Moines and in Iowa.

Capitalizing on his undergraduate accounting background, Gary’s law practice revolved around business, estate planning, corporate law and tax. He became the senior member of the longstanding Wednesday Tax Forum, comprised of ten lawyers and ten CPA’s. He also presented at the annual Bloethe Tax School, held in Des Moines every December. He served on the law firm’s Management Committee for many rotations during his tenure there.

The practice of law was one of his life’s greatest joys. He loved his practice, his partners and many of the staff. They were like family to him. He enjoyed every minute of his 60 years in the firm, only missing three days of work due to illness that entire time, a fact of which he was extremely proud.

An enjoyable aspect of being in the office every day was going to lunch with his partners and having the opportunity to discuss one of his passions: sports. Gary could remember most baseball facts and every St. Louis Cardinals stat. He also was a voracious follower of Hawkeye football and basketball. On the weekends he could be found at the games or watching them on TV.

Gary’s skills in accounting and business were utilized as he became involved in his community, having served on and oftentimes leading numerous and varied boards: Des Moines Hearing and Speech, Boys and Girls Club, Des Moines Botanical Center, Hospice of Central Iowa, Valley High School Booster Club, Central Presbyterian Church, to name a few. His significant community involvement led to his election in 1984 as President of the United Way of Greater Des Moines.

Gary’s mother, Ida May, exemplified strong leadership in Gary’s hometown of Jefferson, particularly in the Methodist Church, and he married women who emulated her. Shortly after taking the position as a lawyer in Des Moines in 1960, Gary met Mary Ann Freel, a Beaverdale native and recent graduate of Northwestern University, Chicago, who was an adjunct English instructor at Drake University. They were married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1962 and settled first in Windsor Heights and later moved to West Des Moines. Mary Ann introduced Gary to the art of fishing, one of her favorite pastimes. This led to their purchase of a cabin on Lake Vermilion, MN. Gary eventually abandoned fishing but in later years was often seen tearing around the lake in his boat, the “Go Gator”.

While parenting their children, Charles Andrew “Chip”, Catharine Freel “Cathy" and Mary Lynn “Lynndy”, Mary Ann was deeply involved in her children’s schools and many community organizations and was the President of the Junior League of Des Moines in 1976-77. Gary spent countless hours enthusiastically coaching Chip’s little league teams and fostering Cathy’s basketball skills. After 23 years of a very happy and fulfilling marriage, Mary Ann succumbed to cancer in 1984 at the age of 46.

Gary married Mary “Louise” in 1986. A Wisconsin native and graduate of Drake, prior to marrying Gary, Louise had been the Assistant Registrar at Drake and was the Director of Communications at the Easter Seal Society of Iowa when they met. Once married, she become a Special Education teacher in the Des Moines Public Schools; later transitioning to be the grant writer for the Red Cross. Gary was the instigator for her to write a book about James Jordan, a pioneer businessman who started the town of Valley Junction, the forerunner of West Des Moines.

Louise brought two children into their family: Robert (Rob) Dunster Julius Cook and Susannah (Susie) Ruth Wattson Cook Morris. Rob Cook and Lynndy Gately accompanied their parents to Europe where they exchanged wedding vows in Vienna, Austria in 1986. Thus began an almost four-decade whirlwind of travel for Gary and Louise. Together they visited many countries in Europe, southeast Asia and North, South and Central America and Australia--in the early years oftentimes visiting Susie who lived abroad for many years.

They vacationed regularly in Phuket, Thailand and Palm Desert California, where Gary loved to play golf. He also played golf regularly in Iowa at Des Moines Golf and Country Club and with the Bogey Boys at Lake Vermilion. Tennis was a favorite pastime, which he played every Monday night for 50 years, with his tennis group during the winter months.

Gary had a lifelong passion of listening and dancing to jazz and big band music. He shared his love of jazz with family and friends. A highlight for him was to coordinate a trip to the Montreal Jazz Festival for the Associates Breakfast Club, of which he was a longtime member.

Gary and Louise made their home in several places: West Des Moines, Iowa; Delray Beach, Florida and Cedarock - their summer home on Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota. The Florida and Minnesota homes were special gathering spots, where family and friends came to stay each year. All of their homes were the setting of good visits, entertaining dinner parties and happy celebrations; the most recent celebration at Cedarock was their 35th wedding anniversary. Most gatherings included cocktail hour, where Gary would be sipping his favorite single-malt Scotch and regaling those around him with hilarious stories. Gary’s positive attitude and wonderful sense of humor were trademarks of his personality.

Gary was predeceased by his parents Ida May (1905-1975) and Charles Gately (1898-1960) and late wife Mary Ann (1938-1984).

Gary leaves many loving friends, children, and other members of his family including his wife, Louise; children Chip (Julee) and Cathy Gately, Lynndy Mobley (Scott), Rob Cook (Leslie) and Susie Morris (Vincent); grandchildren Danny Cook; Mary Grace, Anna Catharine and Marguerite “Maggie” May Gately; Cassandra Anne Parrott; Nicholas Andrew and Sarah Brickley Handfelt; Vincent Paul Jr. and Emily Morris; and Hunter and Savanah Mobley; cousins Jane Prince and Sharon Jackson; and many brothers-and sisters- in-law and nieces and nephews from his marriage with Louise.

A visitation will take place on Monday, October 11 from 5-7 p.m. at Dunn’s Funeral Home, 2121 Grand Ave., Des Moines. The funeral will be held on Tuesday, October 12 at Central Presbyterian Church, 3829 Grand Ave., Des Moines, with a party to celebrate Gary’s life afterwards at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. Gary will be interned on Wednesday, October 13th at 10 a.m. in the Jefferson, Iowa Cemetery.

Gary wishes any memorials to go to the choice of the donor.

May Gary rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing to us all.





Dunn's Funeral Home
2121 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Monday, October 11, 2021
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Central Presbyterian Church
3829 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM