William A. Oates

William A. OatesWilliam A. (Bill) Oates died November 22, 2021. He was the middle child born to William and Lillian Woods Oates. All three sons grew up in Springfield, MA and attended Yale University for eight years. His brothers stayed in the academic milieu, John, who passed away in 2006, as head of the Classics Department at Duke University, NC and Daniel as physics researcher at MIT Lincoln Lab, in Lexington, VA. “Smart like the Oates'” Lillian used to say.

Bill eventually broke away from his academic career, but first interned while while still at Yale in his first teaching job at Sterling College in Craftsbury, VT, with his first wife Rosanne Hutchison (Rosie), who he had met in New Haven, and her two children, Zoe and Alex. Bill continued his studies at Yale in Southeast Asian History, learned to speak Indonesian, Dutch and French. He and Rosie loved to travel, and Oliver Oates was born before they traveled to Indonesia and moved to Amsterdam for his thesis. He had received a prestigious Ford Foundation Grant for their travels and to continue his research. Returning to the USA he taught at Yale, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, PA, finally settling in Greensboro, VT. They bought a farm where Rosie started her sheep farming and Bill taught at Lyndon State.

Adrian Oates was born shortly thereafter in 1966. During the Vietnam era Bill left academia, moved to Brattleboro, and started the Good Life, a natural food store, selling wholesale products as well imported gourmet wines and cheeses. He became a true “hippie”, embracing alternate ideology and lifestyles. He employed members of Packers Corner, a gathering place and home founded by writers, artists, and activists of the 60’s counterculture, like Peter Gould. He was a founding member of the restaurant, The Common Ground, and cooked an Indonesian meal there once a month.

Heide Bredfeldt (Hiler) met Bill at the Good Life. They would often meet at the Common Ground as well, where Thursday evenings, while Heide attended Graduate School, her two children, David and Andrea Hiler would eat and perform their jobs of watering the plants and drying silverware. Heide and Bill spent years enjoying being friends and having lunch together, they finally tied the knot and married June 14, 1980. Not long after marrying Heide, Bill started an Inn-consulting business. Heide joined Bill in his practice, at first joining in the seminars for prospective buyers, focusing on the personal side of Innkeeping. Heide joined the company full time as business partner after a few years and they traveled extensively throughout the USA, Hawaii, Scotland and France advising prospective Inn buyers and sellers. They shared a wonderful life together, played tennis, owned properties for over 40 years, on 40 High Street as well as a Farm on Sunset Lake. They winterized the Farm 11 years ago to live there year-round.

Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease after a spine operation eight years ago. In August of this year he moved into the Thompson House where he received special, loving care until he passed away on November 22, 2021.

Bill leaves his wife Heide of 41 years and is deeply missed by all his family: his children, Oliver and Adrian, David and Andrea, Donald Pleasant and Michael Hernandez (Heide’s foster children), Zoe and Alex Hardy, Daniel, his remaining brother and wife Linda, and many wonderful grandchildren, as well as one new great-grand baby Ellis and countless colleagues in the hospitality industry.

There will be a memorial gathering on Saturday, January 8, at the River Garden /Market Place from 2-5 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations are greatly appreciated: Hospice, Groundworks Collaborative, or any service organization dear to your heart.

Published by The Brattleboro Reformer on Dec. 16, 2021.