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Wichita Correspondent Michael Bates Dies

July 4, 1996

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Michael N. Bates, Wichita correspondent for The Associated Press since 1980, died Wednesday at Columbia-Wesley Medical Center following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 44.

Bates covered central and western Kansas for the news cooperative, specializing in agricultural reporting.

``Mike Bates’ byline was a fixture in Kansas newspapers for 16 years,″ said Paul Stevens, AP chief of bureau in Kansas City.

``He traveled to virtually every community in the state in chronicling Kansas life _ the annual wheat harvests, the tragedies and the happiness. He loved his work and he worked at it tirelessly. He will be missed by his friends and colleagues.″

Among the major stories he covered was the six-week Wichita abortion protests in 1991. In covering a tornado that devastated Andover that same year, Bates worked 36 straight hours in relaying news of the tragedy to the nation. In 1993 he and Topeka newsman John Hanna collaborated on a highly lauded investigation of the Kansas workers compensation system.

He was diagnosed with lymphoma last December, but continued to work while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. His last byline for the AP was on the 1996 Kansas wheat harvest and came in late June.

Bates was a native of Wichita and attended Wichita State University. He joined the AP in Oklahoma City in 1977 after working for The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, the Enid (Okla.) Morning News and Daily Eagle, and the Oklahoma Journal in Oklahoma City.

While in Oklahoma City, Bates covered the Karen Silkwood trial and the Locust Grove Boy Scout murders.

Bates was president of the Kansas professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi, at the time of his death. This spring’s annual Gridiron program was dedicated to him. He wrote and performed cowboy poetry and was among artists whose work was featured in ``Prairie Poetry, Cowboy Verse in Kansas,″ published in late 1995.

Bates served as president of the Kansas Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association in 1989.

Bates is survived by his wife, Patricia; a son, Michael Neil, 15, and a daughter, Allison, 14; two stepchildren, Susan Sennett, 26, and Greg Tholen, 22, both of Wichita; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Neil Bates of Bella Vista, Ark.; and a sister, Shanna Henry of Southam Works, England.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

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