Patricia Bates, with her daughter Kay Lewis, at StoryCorps in Dayton, Ohio.
Patricia Bates recently sat down with her daughter, Kay Lewis, to talk about meeting Kay’s father. It happened in 1948 — Patricia was on vacation, and a boy from a local farm asked her to dance.
"He was such a nice guy," Patricia says.
There was just one problem.
"He wore his hair in sort of a ducktail," she says. "And I really don't like guys that wear their hair long. But I got over that. There was just something about him that I thought was pretty neat."
Back then, George Foreman was attending Miami University; he was home from college when he asked Patricia to dance. Then he transferred to Bowling Green State University so they could be together.
Before long, the couple had married and started a family. But George always liked to be close to Patricia.
As Kay told her mother, "He couldn't get you to sit close enough to him. And if you were going to go get some coffee, it was like, "You stay here — one of the kids will go get it."
"I do recall that feeling of him always wanting me to be with him," Patricia says.
Courtesy Patricia Bates
Patricia and George Foreman were married in November 1949 in Cygnet, Ohio.
Patricia and George Foreman were married in November 1949 in Cygnet, Ohio. Courtesy Patricia Bates
Courtesy of Patricia Bates
Patricia and Warren Bates posed for a photo on his last birthday, in November 2009, in Lima, Ohio.
Patricia and Warren Bates posed for a photo on his last birthday, in November 2009, in Lima, Ohio. Courtesy of Patricia Bates
But when he was just 40, George died of kidney failure. He and Patricia had been married for 18 years.
"I remember going to the library to see books," Patricia says, "because I thought, 'I don't know how to be a widow.'
"It seemed like the end of my life," she says, "except I had seven children, and I had to show them how you accept things like that.
"I didn't want people to look at us and say, 'It's so sad about the Foreman family' — because I knew that you kids had a lot to offer the world. And you gave my life back to me. You really did."
Patricia, now 84, focused on working and raising her children. She didn't go on dates; she was a widow for 20 years, she tells Kay.
But then a secretary friend asked her, "Are you dating? Would you date?"
"Oh, I probably would," Patricia recalls saying.
So her friend introduced Patricia to Warren Bates, and the two made plans to go on a date.
"My children, they were getting me ready for this date, doing my eyes and all this," Patricia recalls, "and I thought 'Oh, what have I signed up for?'
"So I said, 'OK, at 11 o'clock, if I don't think I want to be with him the rest of the evening, I'm going to call and have you come get me."
The couple went out — and at 11 o'clock Patricia made the call.
"He's a great dancer, go to bed!" she remembers saying.
The two were married for 25 years. But when Warren was in his 90s, he, too, passed away.
"Warren's death was just this past February," Patricia says, "and there are times that I just feel like I need to turn and talk to him.
"But you have to fight loneliness," she says. "You know, you face death twice like that, and I think it tests your beliefs. But it has always been love that carried me through."
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher and Nadia Reiman. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with WYSO.