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In memoriam: Bill Coates

Bill Coates
After a long battle with cancer, Bill Coates, UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus, passed away at home surrounded by family on Nov. 6, 2016. He was 66.

William “Bill” Coates was born June 21, 1950, in Bakersfield. He grew up learning subsistence gardening from his father and as a teen would frequent the local library and agricultural extension office to learn how to improve the harvest. In 1970, he left Bakersfield with not much more than $5 and a used bicycle to attend UC Davis.

At UC Davis, Coates earned a bachelor's and master's degree in horticulture and completed postgraduate study at Oregon State University. From 1970 on, Coates became a devout fan of the Aggies, attending most home football games for the next 45 years.

Coates came to San Benito County in 1976 to work as a farm advisor in the University of California Cooperative Extension office, specializing in tree fruit and nut crops. Over the years, his responsibilities grew to include fruit and nut crops in San Benito, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara counties.

Through his extensive research studies with university colleagues and education efforts with local growers, he became known as an expert in several crops, but his passion was apricots and walnuts. Growers from as far away as Europe and Australia routinely sought his advice. For many years, he contributed a periodic newspaper column with tips on home gardening, chronicling the development of his “home orchard” containing nearly 20 fruit trees in a standard city backyard.

Coates met his wife, Nancy, on a blind date in 1982 and they married in 1985 (timing the wedding between codling moth flights). They have three children – Ryan, Ashley and Darren (all graduates of UC Davis as well) and recently welcomed daughter-in-law Amber to the family.

Coates retired in 2011, but continued to perform research as a farm advisor emeritus. He enjoyed practicing photography, riding steam trains and reading about World War II – and he was always planning his next trip to Hawaii.

Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 3:02 PM
  • Author: Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty

Comments:

1.
Bill was so good to me when I started my extension career in Santa Cruz County as a technician,and then later as I learned about coastal walnut production as a new farm advisor in San Luis Obispo. He will be missed.

Posted by Mary L Bianchi on November 29, 2016 at 3:03 PM

2.
I just saw this announcement way late. I've retired July 2015. I am so saddened to learn of Bill's passing. He was the chair of the interview committee when I applied for the Small Farms position in Santa Clara, San Benito, and Sta Cruz. I also closely interacted with him after taking the position. He was very supportive and generous with information and his vast knowledge of crops and local environment. He was the one to encourage me to start work on blueberries and lent me few of his documents and books on the subject. Even after his retirement, he made himself available to answer questions related to fruit production.  
Bill loved and cherished his family and we often talked about lives and families. He loved his work and the great colleagues Advisors and specialists he associated with. He loved the farmers he helped. His departure is a loss to us all. My sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and the ANR family. Aziz

Posted by Aziz Baameur on March 2, 2017 at 10:05 AM

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