Cover photo for Leon "Bo" Bates's Obituary
Leon "Bo" Bates Profile Photo
1941 Leon "Bo" 2024

Leon "Bo" Bates

April 4, 1941 — April 18, 2024


Amos Leon ‘Bo’ Bates, 83, passed away April 18, 2024, peacefully at his home in Benton, TN, surrounded by his family.  


He was born on April 4, 1941, in Etowah, Tennessee to the late, Amos and Duvell Shields Bates.


Leon was a 1959 graduate of Polk County High School.  He had a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Georgia and a Master of Science in Botany from the University of Tennessee.  He married Patricia Brandon in 1964 and in July 1967 they moved to Florence, AL where they lived for 40 years, and Leon began his 27-year career as an aquatic biologist for The Tennessee Valley Authority.  He was responsible for planting the mysterious bald cypress tree grove in Charleston, TN in February 1971 and the cypress plantings in Parksville Lake, Tennessee, McFarland Park in Florence, AL and many other locations in Alabama and Tennessee. In 1982, he traveled to Turkey for FAO of the United Nations to assess the status of the country’s lakes, rivers, and waterways.  After retiring from TVA, he served as the Urban Forester/Horticulturist for the City of Florence for seven years until retiring in 2005.  During this time Leon was responsible for the planning and development of Deibert Park.


In 2007, he and Pat retired to Polk County Tennessee and built their retirement home after purchasing Leon’s great grandmother’s (Granny Shields) property, bordering the Cherokee National Forest.  One of his favorite pastimes up until the final years of his life was propagating and planting trees and native plants on his mountain property.


He served as president and board member of the Aquatic Plant Management Society and was a member of the Alabama Wildflower Society, Men’s Garden Club of the Shoals, Wild Ones Tennessee Valley, and cofounder of Tennessee Valley Woodcarvers. 


He was a longtime hike leader at the Smoky Mountain Wildflower Pilgrimage and led nature hikes at Snowbird Mountain Lodge in the mountains of North Carolina for ten years.   Leon also presented nature programs at Wilderness Wildlife of the Smokies and numerous other organizations.  He could often be found leading any number of friends, relatives, or strangers on nature hikes in his beloved Appalachian Mountains where he seemingly knew every plant and animal down to the most obscure bird call.


In addition to his parents, Amos and Duvell  Shields Bates was he was preceded in death by his sisters, Sybil Bates Wilson and Wanda Sue Bates; infant brother, Terry Bates; mother-in-law and father-in-law O’Neal and Josephine Keele Brandon; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Jerry and Nancy Brandon Clark.  


Left to cherish the many memories include his beloved his wife of 59 years, Patricia Brandon Bates; loving sons, Brian Neal (Cherry) Bates, Daniel Leon (Evie) Bates, retired LtCol USMC; grandchildren, Brandon, O’Neal (Eden), Annabelle, MaryEllen, Katelyn and Beau Bates; great granddaughter, Ella-Grace Bates.  Also, Tiffany Lambright Roberts mother of O’Neal and Annabelle Bates. He is also survived by his brothers, Douglas (Darlene) Bates, Aundrey Bates (Joe) Lusk, Randall (Cotton) Bates, Sandy Bates (Terry) Burchfield, Tammy Bates (Philip) Browder, many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and cousins also survive.


Leon will be remembered for his gentle, kind, and humble nature.  Everyone who knew him was his friend.  He had a great love for plants and animals and was an avid photographer. Bo, Bo-Bo, Granddaddy loved his family beyond measure and will be greatly missed.


Family and friends will gather Saturday, April 27, 2024, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in the chapel of Higgins Funeral Home in Benton, TN.  


A Celebration of Life held in Florence, AL at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, plant a tree or wildflower; or you may donate to the charity of your choice.


Expressions of sympathy may be shared with the family at

Arrangements are entrusted to Higgins Funeral Home of Benton.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Leon "Bo" Bates, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, April 27, 2024

1:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Higgins Funeral Home

6439 US-411, Benton, TN 37307

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