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Phillip Ray "Phil" Cates
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Cates (c. 1974) while serving in the Texas House of Representatives
Texas State Representative for District 79 (Gray, Hansford, Hemphill, Lipscomb, Ochiltree, Roberts, and Wheeler counties)

In office
January 12, 1971 – January 9, 1973
Preceded by Malouf Abraham, Sr. (reconfigured from District 84)
Succeeded by Ron Waters
Texas State Representative for District 66 (Armstrong, Briscoe, Childress, Collingsworth, Donley, Floyd, Gray, Hall, Motley, and Wheeler counties)

In office
January 9, 1973 – January 9, 1979
Preceded by George Baker
Succeeded by Foster Whaley
Personal details
Born (1947-01-06)January 6, 1947
Pampa, Gray County
Texas, USA
Died July 13, 2014(2014-07-13) (aged 67)
Resting place Texas State Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Nancy Holt Cates (married 1970-2014, his death)
Children Andrew and John Cates
Parents Herman Ray and Lavern Robertson Cates
Residence (1) Lefors, Gray County

(2) Shamrock
Wheeler County
(3) Austin, Texas
(4) Dripping Springs, Hays County

Alma mater West Texas A&M University
Occupation Lobbyist
Religion Southern Baptist

Phillip Ray Cates,[1] known as Phil Cates (January 6, 1947 – July 13, 2014), was a lobbyist who served as a Democrat from 1971 to 1979 in the Texas House of Representatives. He represented some ten mostly thinly populated counties in the Texas Panhandle.[2]

Background[edit | edit source]

Cates was born in Pampa, the seat of government of Gray County, northeast of Amarillo, Texas, to Herman Ray Cates (1917-1998), a veteran of the United States Army Air Forces of World War II, and the former Lavern Robertson (1923-2009), a native of Beckham County, Oklahoma. He was reared in nearby Lefors, also in Gray County, where his parents are interred at Memorial Heights Cemetery.[3]

Cates left Lefors in 1965 to enroll at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, then known as West Texas State University. There he was elected four times to the Student Senate and was a member of the Baptist Student Union and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. In 1998, West Texas A&M named him a "Distinguished Alumnus".[4][5]

Cates married in 1970 the former Nancy Holt (also born 1947), originally from Pampa. Their two sons are Andrew and John Cates.[4]

Career[edit | edit source]

In 1970, Cates was elected to succeed the two-term Republican Malouf Abraham, Sr., a wealthy businessman from Canadian in Hemphill County, whose District 84 was blended into revised District 79. Abraham instead ran unsuccessfully for the District 31 seat in the Texas State Senate against the Democrat Max Sherman.[6] Cates won his own primary election in the spring by a margin of two votes.[5]

For his second term, Cates moved to Pampa in reconfigured District 66. Texas Monthly magazine gave him unfavorable reviews in 1973; the publication called Cates part of "the furniture", a reference to those lawmakers who "have no discernible ability to grasp what is going on, and who for that reason do not participate to any significant extent in the proceedings."[7] By 1974, Cates was residing in Shamrock in Wheeler County for his third and fourth terms in the legislature. When he was moved to District 66 with the 1972 election, only Gray and Wheeler counties were held over from his original District 79.[2]

After his four legislative terms, Cates became a lobbyist and worked in the capital city of Austin, first, with former Speaker Byron Tunnell from 1980 to 1989. He was a lobbyist for Tenneco of Houston for nine years in nine southeastern states. In Austin in 1989 and 1990, he was a lobbyist for the Texas Association of Business. In 1991, he joined the firm of former Speaker Bill W. Clayton, at which he remained until 1996, when he opened his own firm, Texas Stakeholders. He remained in that capacity until his death of lung cancer[5] in 2014 at the age of sixty-seven.[4]

Cates, who had resided in Dripping Springs in Hays County near Austin, is interred at Texas State Cemetery in Austin, where graveside services were held on July 26, 2014, with his former legislative colleague Max Sherman among the speakers.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

Political offices
Preceded by
Malouf Abraham, Sr. (reconfigured from District 84)
Texas State Representative for District 79 (Gray, Hansford, Hemphill, Lipscomb, Ochiltree, Roberts, and Wheeler counties)

Phillip Ray "Phil" Cates
1971–1973

Succeeded by
Ron Waters (district moved to Harris County)
Preceded by
George Baker (district previously based in Pecos County)
Texas State Representative for District 66 (Armstrong, Briscoe, Childress, Collingsworth, Donley, Floyd, Gray, Hall, Motley, and Wheeler counties)

Phillip Ray "Phil" Cates
1973–1979

Succeeded by
Foster Whaley

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