Robert C. Oates, 83, of San Jacinto, former longtime Idyllwild resident, died Wednesday, July 16, 2003, at Hemet Valley Health Care, from complications due to aging. He was born February 23, 1920, in Glendale, California, and graduated from Hoover High School in 1938. He was in the U.S. Navy from 1943-1945, serving as a Yeoman 3rd Class on an LST in the South Pacific during World War II. He owned and operated Oates Products Co., an airline nuts and bolts sorting business, in West Covina from 1950-1960, where he was also active in the Optimist Club.
After moving his family to Idyllwild in 1960, as a general contractor he built "Cozy Cottage" cabins during the 1960's, and owned the "Alpine Building" in Fern Valley Corners, home of the Alpine Pantry restaurant and Fern Valley Market. Mr. Oates roots in Idyllwild went back to the 1920's, when his father built a cabin for family use on Fern Valley Rd. Robert and his brother Walter, attended Idyllwild Grammar School part-time in the 1920's. Mr. Oates maintained an active singing career his entire life, as a popular vocalist and church cantor, and as a commercial artist, whistling for the motion picture, The Bridge Over The River Kwai, and yodeling for Italian Swiss Colony Wine television commercials.
Memorial services are scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Thursday, July 24 at St. Anthony's Catholic Church at 630 S. Santa Fe Street in San Jacinto. Internment will be private. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Louisa; three sons, Ronald (Linda) of Newcastle, Robin (Sarah) of Idyllwild, and Timothy (Jackie) of Irvine; a stepdaughter Catherine of Sandy, Utah; a brother Walter of Auburn; 11 grandchildren; and 4 great-grandchildren.