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8/9/2012 11:50:00 AM
OBITUARY: Gaines Gregory Bateman

Gaines Gregory Bateman, 90, entered eternal life peacefully at home surrounded by his children on July 16, 2012, the Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, wearing his Brown Scapular. Greg was born in Johnson City, Tenn. on March 26, 1922. He was named Gaines after the doctor who delivered him.

Greg was the eighth child of 11 born to David Cornelius and Mattie Ellen Conley Bateman. Three siblings died in early childhood and as such, Greg was the only boy for almost 10 years with four older sisters.

Raised in Danville, Ill. on a small family farm during the depression, he learned early to open his home to others and share what was on his table His mother and father also established the foundation for Greg's strong Catholic faith.

As a young man Greg was interested in music and taught himself to play the clarinet and the saxophone. He formed a band with a couple of buddies and enjoyed telling the story of their first "gig" because they only knew three songs and played them over and over the whole night.

Greg also loved to read and his mother was his fierce protector of this passion, Zane Grey being one of his favorite authors.

During WWII, Greg was an air traffic controller in the Army-Air Corp and was stationed in Blythe. He thrived in the desert climate. After the war Greg returned to the Midwest, entered the seminary at Notre Dame for a short time, then finished his Bachelors degree in Philosophy and Latin Studies at St Joseph College in Rensselaer, Ind.

He married Helen Catherine Wernke in July 1950 and they had their first child, Becky, in June of 1951. Greg also graduated college that month. After college, while working on a dairy farm, Greg and Helen were approached about teaching at a small Catholic school. The direction of his career was set. He would tell you it was God's plan.

In 1954, Greg and his wife Helen moved to Blythe, where Greg was a teacher and high school counselor until 1969. In Blythe they added three more children to their family; Mike in 1956, Clare in 1959, and Beth in 1960.

It was common for Greg and Helen to open their home to those in need. One night on his way home from playing for a dance at the Elks Club, Greg came upon a family of seven whose car had broken down, Greg piled them all in his car (no seat belts then!) and brought them home where they stayed for several days until they could be on their way.

Greg was active in his church while in Blythe teaching Catechism, singing in the choir and working on church Bazaars. Students at the high school had a strong affection for him and his co -workers had a sincere appreciation and respect for him.

Greg and Helen moved to Hemet in 1969 to be close to their daughter Clare, who was born with Downs Syndrome and lived in a small group home in Perris. Clare was the focal point of their weekends and they became dear friends of Mama and Papa Burrell, who so lovingly cared for Clare for many years.

Little League baseball became a great pastime for Greg and his family. Greg helped with the founding of Little League baseball in Blythe and took a leadership role as a player agent with Hemet Youth Baseball. Most nights he could be found at the ballpark during the season. Greg loved baseball and was a big Angel fan, most of the time sporting an Angel ball cap.

Beth was Greg's ticket to laughter and fun, with her free spirit and "joi de vie", she and Greg put more than a few nickels in the slot machines and drove the countryside searching for out-of-the way roads and places that he had read about or seen on a map. Greg had an unbelievable sense of direction.

Greg was a counselor at San Jacinto High School from 1969 until his retirement in 1989. Again, Greg was well thought of and loved by many. Also during his time in Hemet, Greg was an active parishioner at Our Lady of the Valley, again teaching Catechism, Lectoring at Masses and KP duty for the roast beef dinners organized by his wife Helen.

In 1996, Greg and Helen moved to Temecula to help his oldest daughter, Becky, raise her children after the death of their father. Greg and Helen, because of their commitment to family, changed the direction of their retirement to once again answer the call of someone in need. The hallmark of their life.

Greg spent his time in Temecula as a regular attendee of daily Mass at St. Catherine's Church. He was an ambassador for the Lord to all he encountered. If you met him he prayed for you! In his gentle humble way he impacted many lives, most especially the three young grandchildren that he lived with for his last 16 years. Although his body was succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer's, his soul was still responding and seeking his God. He remembered his prayers till the last.

Praise God for his goodness and mercy.

Greg faithfully cared for his wife Helen for five years after a stroke until her passing in July 2005.

Greg lost his precious Clare in March 2008.

Greg leaves behind his daughter; Becky (Fred Flores), son Mike, daughter Beth (John Carpenter); nine grandchildren, six great-grandchildren; sister Henrietta Grubbs: and many nieces and nephews.

As per his wishes, Greg's body was donated to the Loma Linda School of Medicine, Body for Science Program (he is still teaching).

In Greg's memory: Love a child, teach a child, pray for a child.

Funeral Mass was held on Aug. 6, 2012 at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Temecula, Calif.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Article comment by: James Polston

My condolences to the Bateman family. I have a lot of good memories of Mr.Bateman. He wll be missed

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Article comment by: Janice Feemster Maples

Mr. Bateman was my teacher from Jr. High through my senior year, 1962. He was my very favorite teacher...in fact...we named our son Greg after him I have always wanted to tell him what a wonderful person and teacher he was and what an influence he has been all these many years. Thank you Mr. Bateman...God be with til' we meet again.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Bob1 Slough

My profound condolences to the Bateman family on their loss. I have very fond memories of Greg as a teacher at Palo Verde High School. He always conducted himself with dignity and class, and his easy-going style seemed to connect with his students and fellow teachers. He was a solid role model for not only the students, but for his fellow faculty members as well. Rest in peace, Mr. Bateman.

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012
Article comment by: James Eubanks

I was in Mr. Batman's class in 1960 and he was a great gentleman. He taught literature and I remember his lectures about Beawolf which bored us to death until we realized Elvis Presley borrowed words for his lyrics. "Where angels fear to tread and wise men never go..." Peace be with you.

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