Bruce Bates became a member of the exclusive 90-Plus Club at the Cumberland Medical Center Wellness Complex at Fairfield Glade last month.
He is one of a group of 15 Cumberland County residents who are 90 years old and have been members of the Wellness Complexes in Fairfield Glade or Crossville for at least a year, and regularly exercise. They all get free membership.
Bates has been a member of the Fairfield Glade Complex since it opened in July 2003.
He has worked out since then despite a number of ailments that might stop most persons half his age.
“I injured my right knee during pre-flight training during World War II, and now doctors tell me the knee joint is bone on bone,” he said.
Since Bates and his wife, Mary, moved to Fairfield Glade from Naperville, Illinois, in 1998, he suffered a stroke. Along with his right knee problem, it was reason for him to give up golf.
Doctors also tell him he could use a heart valve replacement, and they are monitoring a stomach aneurysm.
Cellulitis put him in the hospital for ten days.
“I recently had skin cancer removed from my leg,” Bates said. “I’m waiting for it to heal so I can get back into the Wellness Complex pool and start to swim laps again,” he said.
In the mean time, he is using training machines to maintain his level of physical fitness.
Bates met his wife in 1942 at Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois. “That’s where Ronald Reagan went to school,” he said. The former president graduated from Eureka in 1932.
Bates and his wife dated for five years, during and after the War, and were married in 1947. They had three daughters.
Pre-flight training took Bates to a number of locations — the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa; Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri; Grosse Isle Naval Air Station, near Detroit, Michigan, and Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida.
After the war, Bates attended Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, where he worked on an industrial engineering degree.
He later worked in production engineering at the Chicago Stockyards before joining Western Electric in Cicero, Illinois.
Bates went to work at the General Motors Fisher Body plant in Chicago in 1955 and retired 27 years later in 1982.
Why is he still working out at the Wellness Complex at age 90?
“I’d like to get back on the golf course,” he says.