Founding Families

Doug & Debbie Bates

Doug and Debbie Bates grew up in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and became high school sweethearts when Doug was a senior and Debbie was a freshman at Lawrenceburg High School.


Doug served his country in Vietnam as a combat medic from March 1969 to March 1970. He took part in the Tet 69 counteroffensive in the summer of 1969 and in the Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970 campaign, receiving the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service with military operations against a hostile force, the Good Conduct Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Gallantry Cross with Palm, the National Defense Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Combat Medic Badge with Oak Leaf, the Army Commendation Medal with the Valor device, and the Rifle Marksman badge.


After returning from Vietnam, he and Debbie married in June 1970 and moved to Cookeville so he could attend Tennessee Tech University, where he received his B.S. and M.S. in biology.


"He did blood research for the American Red Cross for a year then received a job offer in South Carolina. We prayed about moving and just didn't feel as if we should," said Debbie. "Through our prayers, the Lord led Doug to start our own business."


Doug founded New Day Services and operated the company for 25 years, later selling it to his son-in-law, Tony Gammon. After that, he sold insurance for Woodmen of the World and Mass Mutual.


The Bates' attended First Baptist Church of Cookeville, where Doug taught adult, children's and preschool Sunday school classes; served as a deacon; and worked with the singles ministry. He and Debbie also taught a marriage relationship class, and Debbie was the church's preschool director for 22 years. She currently leads a grief share ministry there.


Doug was constantly looking for an opportunity to share his faith with strangers and friends. He gave back to his community through Habitat for Humanity and Rotary Club. After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, he fulfilled his lifelong ambition and wrote a book titled "Circles Around the Sun" about his experiences in the Vietnam War.


"He couldn't sleep because of the medication he was on, so he stayed up late at night and just started writing little short stories on the computer of things that would come to his mind about his experience of Vietnam and the fact that, despite a life expectancy of three minutes as a medic, our Lord Jesus gave him 60 years of a fulfilling life and gave him to me for 39 years and gave us three beautiful-inside-and-out daughters and five wonderful grandchildren," said Debbie.


Doug also began serving as a volunteer in the Cancer Center at Cookeville Regional Medical Center after he became ill.


"Some days he struggled to get there because the medication made him feel so bad, but he insisted on going because he said there were more people worse off than him," said Debbie.


While helping at the hospital, Doug became aware of the need for assistance that many of the patients there had, so he decided to include The Foundation in his will. Upon his death on June 3, 2009, his estate made a gift to The Foundation from Doug's life insurance benefit. Doug left a legacy of friends in the community and a legacy of artifacts from his Vietnam years that Debbie has given to the Putnam County Archives/Veterans Hall.


The Bates' have three daughters and sons-in-law, Celeste and Tony Gammon, Abby and Ryan Williams, and Natalie and Chase McMillan. Their five grandchildren are GraceAnn, Grant, Grady, Tyson and Carson.