Bill Bates spent much of his adult life on the Central Coast entertaining and
informing the community through his sketches & drawings, and was twice
nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
For 36 years, Bill drew a weekly cartoon for the Carmel Pine Cone,
illustrating his adopted town's idiosyncrasies. He later
became a regular editorial cartoonist for The Herald in Monterey.
was born in Texas on Jan. 6, 1930, but lived in Carmel
since 1972. He was introduced to Carmel when he was working
as a cartoonist for the San Francisco Examiner.
"I came to
a national cartoonists' convention in Carmel," he said. "That's
where I met Gus Arriola and Eldon Dedini. Hank (Ketcham) came
later. I told them I'd like to live here someday. I returned in
1972 and we've met every other Tuesday for coffee ever since."
Bill's father died at a young age, leaving the boy to be reared
mostly by his grandmother. After high school, he joined the
military, then spent years traveling the world with a cruise line,
sketching caricatures of passengers. It was during those
years that he made friends all over the world, and sketched some
of the most exotic ports on Earth — work he published in 23 books.
Twenty years ago, at one of those island venues, he met Lei
Lei, whom he married two years later.
He met Lei Lei, in Sydney, Australia,
where he had gone to illustrate a cookbook. They have a daughter,
Chelsea, who will be a Senior at York School. The couple owned and
operated the Carmel Café on Ocean Avenue before selling it in
During his last days, Lei Lei said her husband had not lost
his sense of humor, and drive to get better.
“He was always positive,” she said. “He was patient of
the month. Everybody loved him. He wanted to get better
so he cooperated with everything, even if he was in pain
sometimes. He never complained.”