Walter McMain Oates, news photographer, dies at 84
Walter McMain Oates, a Washington news photographer who covered nine presidential administrations, died Dec. 30, 2011. He was 84. Mr. Oates started his newspaper career as a copy boy with the Washington Star, and worked for The Washington Times until he retired in the early 1990s. As a member of the White House News Photographers Association, Mr. Oates had the privilege of working many black tie events at the White House and gaining access to to presidents. Mr. Oates, also known as Mac, joined the Navy as a young man, serving his country for two years at the end of World War II. Though he loved his career and often spoke of the memories, Mr. Oates was most proud of his two children.
After retirement, he and wife, Elizabeth, moved from Virginia to Florissant, Colo., so they could be close to family, especially his grandchildren, who lived in Colorado Springs. During his roughly 16 years in Colorado, Mr. Oates joined a volunteer fire department where he spent many hours building friendships among the other members. He and his wife loved becoming “locals,” and they could often be found at a restaurant visiting and celebrating mountain living. In addition to his wife of 52 years, Mr. Oates is survived by a son, Kevin Oates; a daughter, Kathleen Rigby; and three grandchildren. Mr. Oates also is survived by a younger brother, James Henry Oates of Caldwell, Idaho. Mrs. Rigby recalled Thursday how her mother and father were invited to the White House every Christmas and how much she enjoyed having them close to the grandchildren, with whom they took cross-country trips and attended hockey games. Family members said Mr.Oates also photographed such celebrities as John Wayne and Sammy Davis Jr. Attribution: WashingtonTimes.com