on May 26, 2014 - 7:25 PM
Nov. 28, 1921 – May 1, 2014
Kenneth Bates, of Buffalo, who entertained people of all ages for many years as YOYO the Clown, died May 1 after a short illness. He was 92.
Born in the Town of Tonawanda, he was a 1940 graduate of Buffalo Technical High School and served in the Navy in World War II aboard the USS Oakland in the Pacific. From the Oakland, he watched through binoculars as the Japanese surrendered in Tokyo Bay.
Mr. Bates worked at Houdaille Industries on East Delavan Avenue as a machinist and tool maker before he was drafted. Returning from service, he worked again at Houdaille, then went to Sylvania in 1950 as a mechanical technician.
In 1970, he became a teacher’s aide at Bennett High School, then worked at West Hertel Middle School and Lafayette High School. He retired in 1988. In retirement, he worked part time for a private driving school.
As YOYO, he appeared at Women & Children’s Hospital, the annual birthday party at Kenmore Mercy Hospital, the Special Olympics, summer activities at M&T Plaza and many Fourth of July parades.
He was active in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church for more than 60 years, serving as head of the Sunday school, as a Eucharistic minister and for many years on the Vestry. He was active in Fools for Christ, an ecumenical clown ministry.
He was a member of the Master Masons Clown Association and a 55-year member of Occidental Lodge, Free & Accepted Masons, now Millennium Lodge.
An accomplished dancer when he was a teacher’s aide, he and his wife often attended school proms. He later was a member of a square-dancing group.
His wife of 59 years, Vera Hudecek Bates, died in 2002.
Survivors include a daughter, Charanne Wagner; three grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. Marks-All Saints Episcopal Church, 311 Ontario St.