Dillard H. Gates | Obituaries

January 23, 1925 – October 24, 2021

Dillard H. Gates, Ph.D., of Vancouver, Washington, died peacefully with his family on October 24, 2021. Dillard was born on January 23, 1925 in Gates, Nebraska, where he grew up on a farm owned by his grandfather and great-grandfather and graduated from Gates High in 1942.

As part of the Greatest Generation, Dillard joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1942 and proudly served his country during World War II. Dillard spent 19 months at a Loran Station on Canton Island in the South Pacific and then returned to Nebraska to marry his high school mistress, Anastasia “Ann” (Mohatt) Gates, in 1946.

After a stint at the US Geological Survey, Dillard enrolled at Kearney State Teachers College and the following year at the University of Nebraska Agricultural College, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Soil Conservation. To continue his education, Dillard earned his Masters of Science degree in Agronomy from the University of Nebraska and Ph.D. in Rangeland Management from Utah State University in 1955. Dillard then accepted a position with the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Southern Plains Experimental Range, in Woodward, Oklahoma. Dillard and Ann moved to Pullman, Washington, in 1957 to set up a collaborative ARS research program with Washington State University. At this point, Dillard received a courteous appointment to the WSU faculty and as a faculty member in the WSU Forestry and Range Department. In 1962, Dillard accepted a position as Range Extension Specialist Associate Professor at Oregon State University.

In 1969, Dillard retired from the OSU and accepted a request from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) to take on a three-month assignment in Baghdad, Iraq, to ​​assess the country’s ranching and grazing programs. In 1970 he took a year-long sabbatical to develop a management plan for the 25 million acres of BLM land in California. After returning to OSU, Dillard continued to work as a Rangeland Extension Specialist and became Director of the Rangeland Recourses Program.

Dillard resigned from OSU in November 1974 to work as a Senior Range Management Specialist with the Agency for International Development (USAID). He has been involved in pasture management and related programs in 17 countries in Africa as well as several in the Middle East and Latin America. In 1975 Dillard was installed as president of the Society for Range Management and in 1980 he retired from USAID and returned to OSU to serve as director of the Yemen program. Dillard retired from OSU in 1983 but continued to work as an international grassland management and dry land consultant serving several missions in the Middle East and more than a dozen in China. During his academic and scientific career, he published over 65 articles and articles in various academic journals and journals. Dillard retained the honorary title of Professor Emeritus from Oregon State University. Although Dillard traveled the world, he never forgot his roots as a farm boy and cornhusker from Nebraska.

After retiring in 1998, Dillard published “Hay, Hell, Kids & Cattle,” an autobiography of his early years growing up on a dryland farm as one of 16 children during the drought and depression, and “Then What Happened Papa, “A continuation of the autobiography that covers his experiences in World War II through into adulthood.

A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Dillard had lived in Vancouver, Washington, since 1986 after retiring from Oregon State University. Dillard leaves behind his son Howe (LeeAnn) Gates and grandsons Laura (Eric) Bolek of Santa Barbara, California, Allison Gates of Buellton, California, and Gregory Gates of Vancouver, Washington. Dillard is also survived by his sister Lee Esterbrook from Berthoud, Colorado and brother Larry Gates from Burwell, Nebraska. Dillard was preceded in the deaths of Ann, his beloved wife of nearly 65, and his youngest son, Charles Gates.