Opal Herman Bates

2010-11-18T00:00:00Z 2010-11-18T16:30:28Z Opal Herman Bates The Billings Gazette
November 18, 2010 12:00 am

JOLIET — Our mother, grandmother and friend, Opal Herman Bates died on Nov. 15, 2010, at St John's Lutheran Ministries, Billings.

Opal was born in Golden Valley, N.D., to E.C. and Emilia Herman, the fifth of 11 children on Oct. 30, 1917. She was baptized into the Lutheran faith. Opal started school when she was 4 years old as she would not be separated from her brothers and sisters. The family later moved to Beulah, N.D., where she finished grade school and graduated from high school. Opal was confirmed and became a member of the Zion Lutheran Church in Beulah.

Opal was married to the love of her life, Elmer Bates, on Oct. 30, 1939. To that union was born five children: Nicole, Shyla, twins Debra and Denton, and Robin.

In 1958, Elmer was transferred to Savage, with Knife River Coal to start a new coal mine.

While at Savage, they bought a small farm and kept more than busy with outdoor chores. Opal became a member of the First Lutheran Church at Savage. In 1987, Elmer and Opal moved to Joliet, where Opal joined the Joliet Lutheran Church, the Yo-Yo Club and the Garden Club.

Mom was a special woman of great passions. Her love of her siblings was extraordinary, and we all enjoyed her stories of them hiking or singing harmony on the old piano. Opal's German heritage was her pride and joy as could be attested to by her ethnic cooking abilities. She loved teaching her daughters special German phrases. Mom thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors. When she wasn't tending her vegetable garden or her flowers, she preferred to hike, collect rocks, watch birds and was amazed by cloud formations.

Opal helped her family any way she could and showed her love with flowers and food. She was an excellent seamstress and sewed all her own clothes and those of her children and grandchildren.

We love you Mom, Grandma, go with God!

Opal was preceded in death by her husband, Elmer, of 62 years; her daughter, Nicole; and twins Debra and Denton; and all of her brothers and sisters.

Opal is survived by Shyla (Harley) Sorrells of Joliet, Robin (Ed) Shaffer of Newport, Mich.; her granddaughters Shaye Zier, Sherry (Ron) Munoz, Stacy (Steve) Erb; grandsons Jadee (Janie) Sorrells, Travis Sorrells and Garett (Jacquie) Sorrells.

The family will hold a memorial service at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Joliet Lutheran Church.

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