After a full 95 years of life, James Ray Bates of Overland Park, KS, went to be with his Savior on March 16th, 2023.

He was preceded in death by his father Charles Bates (1967), mother Docia Bates (1997), brother Charles Bates (2006), brother Jack Bates (2008), and his daughter Donna Forrest (2010).

He leaves behind his wife, Swann of 75 years; his children: Cynthia Atwood Steinberg (Paul), James R. Bates Jr., and Pam Nuenke(Doug); Granchildren: Calvin Atwood, Justin Atwood, Swann Bates Waterhouse, Jack Bates, Beth Ann Nuenke Mergens, Lauren NuenkeRowland, Will Nuenke, Rachel Forrest, Alexander Forrest Carter, Hannah Forrest Long , 18 great-grand children and several nieces and nephews.

James was born in Cisco, Texas on May 10, 1927 to Charles and Docia Bates. In 1927, his parents moved to Ada, OK where he would spend his boyhood days. He worked there with his dad on various enterprises but most fondly spending time learning and working the family cattle farm.

After high school, James joined the Marine Corps in 1945. He married Swann Lou Lake of Shreveport, LA in 1947. They lived in Ada for a short time while he attended Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) and graduated in 1950. In Ada he worked in partnership with his brother, Charles on the Aberdeen-Angus business.

In 1952, James and Swann moved to Louisburg, KS where they purchased a farm and ran cattle. There he remained in farming and cattle for some time. During this period of life, James also acquired multiple businesses: a farm implement business and a Pontiac car dealership. Later, he would add a dealership in Paola, KS, a Pontiac and Cadillac dealership in Ottawa, KS as well as an Oldsmobile dealership in Olathe, KS.

Always carrying an entrepreneurial spirit, he found many new and exciting ventures including insurance for several states known as Alba and Associates. He also owned and built the first condo development at Lake of the Ozarks, bought and sold hotels in the midwest, as well as various other enterprises – but to him, life was meant to be an adventure

He completed his career as the publisher of MidWestTravel Buddy, covering hotel advertising in the Midwest for 20 years until 2016. Not quite being satisfied with retirement, life came full circle when he returned to his roots by purchasing a farm in Mound City, KS. He enjoyed making something better of the land by building fences and barns and reseeding pasture.

Beyond his role as an entrepreneur, James was also an active Christian in his adult life serving in various churches in roles such as deacon and chair of building and finance committee, but his most cherished and gratifying role was as a Sunday School teacher for more than 35 years where he taught all ages, from children to adults.

A visitation will be held on Wed. March 22nd at 10:30am at Lenexa Baptist church,15320 W. 87th St. Pkwy, Lenexa, KS. Funeral service will follow at 11:30. Burial at Johnson County Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in James’ honor to Abba House ( or Mission Dignity (

Assistance by Funeral Advocates, LLC.

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