BEAUMONT, Texas — Recent mayoral candidate and longtime Beaumont City Councilman Wilbur “W.L.” Pate passed away Sunday morning from complications of a rare lung disease, according to Beaumont City Manager Kyle Hayes. He was 73 years old.
An Army veteran, Pate served as a city councilman for 14 years, with two terms as the mayor pro-tem. He was an active advocate for the city and served in leadership roles in municipality organizations.
A memorial gathering of Pate's family and friends will be held on Thursday, June 24, 2021 from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Broussard's at 2000 McFaddin Ave in Beaumont.
Funeral services for Pate will be held at 1 p.m. at One City Church on Friday, June 25, 2021, at 2350 Eastex Freeway in Beaumont with military honors to follow.
Friends and colleagues of Pate continue to mourn the loss of "Beaumont's biggest cheerleader and advocate."
"Councilmember Pate, was an extraordinary council member who had the love for Beaumont, for Lamar,” Tina Broussard, city clerk, said. “He was the board director for Babes Zaharias Foundation, his passion and his love was Beaumont always has been."
Pate was known as a staple in the community especially for those involved in the Babe Zaharias Museum.
“We were proud of him to go in to represent Babe's foundation and to represent the city of Beaumont,” Broussard said.
Dean Conwell, executive director of Beaumont Visitors Bureau, said Pate was known for his love and passion of keeping the Southeast Texas Olympian’s legacy alive.
"Well, he has basically kept the museum going, he's renovated it,” he said. “He has had fundraisers, golf tournaments. He just would not let Babe go away. He was a great leader, not only here in Beaumont Southeast Texas, but across the state. He will be truly missed. "
Beaumont Chamber of Commerce CEO Bill Allen remembered how much it meant to Pate to be awarded the presidential medal of freedom on behalf of the Babe Zaharias museum.
"A lot of times, when he would talk in front of a group, he would always mention how much pride he had for the medal, for trying to grow that organization and for all the things that they did for our community," Allen said.
Friends and colleagues of Pate said he will be missed and remembered.
“He was somebody that has poured their heart and soul into a community, and he will be hard to replace," Allen said.
He was the president of the Texas Association of Mayors, Council Members and Commissioners and was on the Board of the Texas Municipal League and served as president of the organization for Region 16.
Pate was elected to city council in 2007, the same year Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames was elected as mayor.
“I sat right beside him for 14 years,” Ames said. “He truly loved Beaumont, Lamar and Babe Zaharias. Rodney and I send our heartfelt condolences to his family.”
He is best known for his love of his alma mater Lamar University, where he served as the President of the Cardinal Club, and his work with the Babe Zaharias Museum and Foundation, where he served as president.
Pate accepted the President Medal of Freedom on behalf of the foundation that was posthumously awarded to Zaharias by President Donald Trump.
He was also a board member of Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital, Lamar Institute of Technology, the Julie Rogers Gift of Life, Young Men’s Business League, the Downtown YMCA and Rotary Club. He was a member of Calvary Baptist Church.
The disease was a recent condition that surfaced in the past two months, according to Hayes.
Remembering longtime Beaumont councilman W.L. Pate
Pate’s contribution to Southeast Texas and his commitment to the community he loved will leave a lasting legacy. Services are pending with Broussard’s Mortuary.
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This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.