THE family of a respected teacher, sportsman and musician today paid tribute to him, saying: “He was a real family man.”
Family and friends of former Baines Grammar School and Arnold Boys School teacher James Yates today described him as a man who always had a tale to tell and time to give to others.
Mr Yates died, aged 90, on March 13, leaving children Penny and Michael, along with five grandchildren.
Daughter Penny Dite said: “He was a real family man, they were the most important thing to him.”
Mr Yates was born in Montreal in 1922 and from a young age was musical, singing in Montreal Cathedral.
He moved back to England with his family aged 12 and later served in the RAF in the Second World War, often recounting tales of his days to family and later leading cadets at Arnold School.
He moved to Blackpool for love after meeting wife Freda at teacher training college in Leeds.
And he stayed for the lifestyle the town afforded him, living close to work on St Lukes Road, and spending his days playing sport with, among others, Blackpool FC legend Jimmy Armfield, and composing music with son Michael and friend Peter Jebson. “He and Jimmy Armfield had a really successful basketball team,” added Penny, 59.
He and wife Freda, who died six years ago, enjoyed holidays to visit Penny with her family in Munich, and also took his family to visit where he had grown up in Canada, his daughter said.
She added: “We have so many photos and happy memories of those times.”
After taking retirement from his role as Deputy Headteacher of Arnold Junior School in 1980 Mr Yates again turned his attention to music, composing cassettes to be sold in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care and Trinity Hospice, Bispham.
The family have asked for donations to the hospice, on Low Moor Road, in Mr Yates’ name.
His life will be celebrated with a service at St Cuthbert’s Parish Church, Lytham, at 11am, on March 28.