Meet Fred Gates
He’s Called Simpson Meadows Home Since 2000
And the beat goes on
Marching in his father’s footsteps put Fred Gates on a path to his happiest memory and greatest accomplishment in life: wedding Elsie and being married to her for more than 60 years. They met while marching in a parade for what was then called the Lukens Steel Band.
Little drummer boy
The roots of the Lukens Band go back to 1911 when the owner of Lukens Steel, Charles Lukens Huston, started the Lukens Mission Band to keep young boys from playing baseball instead of going to Sunday school. At one point Fred’s father, a music teacher, was the band’s director, and he encouraged Fred to join when he was 14. He was a drummer. During the 1940s and ‘50s, the band marched in a parade almost every Saturday through the summer, and at town carnivals in and around Coatesville. Eventually, the band had several units, and Fred played with its German band. He was with the Lukens band for 75 years.
On the day of one of those parades, the band’s regular drum majorette couldn’t join them, so she recruited her friend Elsie to fill in.
“The rest is history,” says Fred. He and Elsie raised a son who now lives in California.
The son of a music teacher, Fred was born in Red Lion, in York County, and moved to Coatesville when he was 13. When he was a junior in high school, he joined the army. After his service, he returned to school and graduated from Coatesville High. He went on to work for PennDOT as a traffic control technician for 26 years. Throughout that time and beyond, Fred has stayed involved in the community in many ways. He was involved in the Downingtown Fire Police Force for 58 years, holding the ranks of both lieutenant and captain. He was active in Scouting for most of his life, from being a Boy Scout to serving as Scoutmaster for two troops and sitting on committees for three. His Scouting career also included service as Lodge Chief of the Order of the Arrow, which is an honor society that recognizes Scouts who exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives.
Getting in on the ground floor
Fred is also active in his church. He retired as sexton of Downingtown United Methodist Church in 2019 and is a trustee chairman. As a church member in the 1990s, when Simpson Senior Services sought to expand its mission into the suburbs, Fred became instrumental in planning the community that today is Simpson Meadows.
When Fred and Elsie moved to Simpson Meadows when it opened in 2000, he brought his commitment to community involvement and his musical talent. He joined the Meadowlarks Chorus, performing shows like “Love, Italian Style” at Simpson and other communities. Today, at 95, he says the secret to aging well is to “live naturally” and he always speaks his mind.
“I say what I think, whether people like it or not,” he says. “People say that they ‘know where Fred stands,’” and he marches to the beat of his own drum.