Sixty-one years into his profession, Dr. Don. C. Pates continues to practice medicine at eighty-nine years old. He is a well-respected doctor, golfer, skier, motorcyclist, WWII veteran, husband, grandfather, and friend. Don was born on February 24, 1924 in Webster City, Iowa to Carl Arthur and Claire Criswell Pates.
Don’s medical experience came at the age of 21, as a medic in Germany during World War II. He was part of 12th Army Group in France, Germany, Austria, a unit that liberated the Dakow concentration camp. Among numerous awards include Combat Medic Badge and Bronze Star. Upon his safe return from WWII, Don decided he wanted to become a doctor. The draft to the war was a mixed blessing in that the GI bill made medical school affordable for Don. And so, after pre-med and medical school, Don opened up his own practice in Michigan. In 1971, Don and his family moved to Rupert, where he still works three to four days a week as a family physician. He’s proven to be a small town doctor with a big heart, genuinely loving what he does. Don’s philanthropy stretches from Rupert to the Lakota Reservation in South Dakota, where for eight years he made the trek to South Dakota to deliver critical supplies to Lakota community.
Whether you’re a patient or neighbor, you quickly learn that Don is a “regular guy” with extraordinary genetics and a passion for life. He decided to retire from skiing last year, having been a ski instructor for years. He continues to golf, a hobby he started ten years ago. Don’s signature hobby, though, is riding his motorcycle—a yellow-colored 2006 Honda Gold Wing Touring motorcycle he’s dubbed “Big Bird”. In fact, he has a July motorcycle trip planned to Canada with a Pocatello doctor, Dr. Björn Sauerwein, whom he met by referring a patient. His philanthropy stretches beyond the borders of Idaho to the Lakota Reservation in South Dakota. As quoted in a feature article in “Southern Idaho Living” magazine, Don says, “Most doctors my age are dead. God’s not ready for me, and the devil doesn’t want me—I’d raise too much hell. When I die, I don’t want to be neat and clean. That’s my motto. What a ride.”