Revised on 06/19/2015
Ronald Jr. Ronnie Jr. or Ronnie, as he was known, growing up in Faison in the 1950’s and 1960’s, attended Faison School from 1950-1958 and North Duplin High School from 1958-1962. His parents’ were Myrtie and Ronald Oates Sr and brother, Rudy and sister, Ann. The Oates family lived in the brick house, with the carport, across from the Baptist Church (built by Ronald Oates, Sr. in 1949). The Oates family attended Faison Methodist Church, where Ronald Jr., as a teen-ager, served as the church Secretary.
The Oates children, Rudy, Ronald Jr., and Ann carried the News and Observer to the residents of Faison; Ronald Jr. for a total of 8 years from 1954-1962. Ronald Jr., worked as a clerk in his dad’s hardware store, Faison Hardware Company, at age 13, worked at the Faison Produce Market as a “checker” (mostly. middle platform) during high school and college, measured crops for the Agricultural and Stabilization Commission (ASCS) office in Kenansville, for one summer, worked at the H. F. Lee Steam Electric Plant in Goldsboro one summer, and picked red pepper for Buster Precythe one season……
Faison School and North Duplin High School
Ronnie’s elementary school teachers (at the Faison school) were Dail, Martin, Davis, Ray, Blount, McColman, Bowden, and several 8th grade teachers. In high school, Mrs. Harriet Taylor taught me several courses including “Speech” and public speaking and how to (properly say “theater”, and other such words)…. Mr. L.S. Guy taught and inspired me in Physics and Sciences and was one of my football coaches…, Mr. Richard Kaleel was my home room teacher, History teacher and my football and basketball coach. In the summer, he was my supervisor (head checker) at the Faison Fruit & Vegetable Exchange (produce market) …. Mrs. Oliver had a tremendous impact on me, as she inspired me in advanced math courses and helped prepare me for the rigors of an engineering program and an eventual degree in Electrical Engineering from NC State University and Masters degree from Old Dominion University. Education doesn’t start and end with the classroom. In a small town, like Faison, we also looked forward to Bible School in the Summer.
My Hobby and Passion, Amateur (Ham) Radio
I enjoyed “hanging out” at the Radio and TV Repair Shop, run by Rex Best, in the back of Headley Hatcher’s store. I enjoyed watching Rex repair radios, as this inspired me further in my pursuit of a career in the electronics field.
Ron discovered his life-time hobby, that of amateur “ham” radio, in the Mt. Olive Boys Scouts (there was no Boy Scout troop in Faison and Mt. Olive was kind enough to allow me to join their troop.) and for more than 50 years has been active in international travel to exotic locations, many uninhabited islands using Amateur Extra Class radio call sign AA4VK (see website aa4vk.com for pictures). This hobby provided the opportunity to create life time friends from around the globe, including multiple trips to Russia and Japan……. My biggest thrill was participating in a joint Soviet-American radio expedition to the Soviet Arctic in 1989 using the special commemorative call sign US0SU. This event was a result of Gorbachev’s Glasnost and openness between the Soviet people and the world community. Even with all of these experiences and world friends, some of the greatest friendships ever have been those made while growing up in Faison..
Spent 6-1/2 years with the Newport News Shipbuilding Company as a design engineer of radio communications systems for the Aircraft Carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and as a test engineer for the MK 48 Torpedo Fire Control System for the Nuclear Submarine USS Finback (SSN-670) and was responsible for the initial calibration and testing of the system, at sea. Onboard, as a “civilian” test engineer, during the Finback’s initial sea trials, following construction, and its first dive (more than 1,000 feet down) to demonstrate the “emergency blow” capability of bringing the submarine to the surface, following an intentional shutdown of the nuclear reactor and power systems…. Yes, it worked and I am here today to tell about it…. What a privilege to have been able to use my engineering education in the design and testing of a nuclear submarine and nuclear powered aircraft carrier.!
Spent 22 years with Carolina Power & Light Company in various engineering and regulatory management positions!
Co-founder and Chairman of an engineering start-up company. Had the excitement and satisfaction of building a company from “scratch” to one that employed 28 people (half were degreed engineers). The company became a leader in performing safety and regulatory analyses, in the event of a fire at a nuclear power plant, and had projects throughout the USA and Japan… I finally retired, after in 2012.
Looking Back on Life
Ron shares many of his “stories” or maybe better described as “adventures” of growing up in Faison, in the 1950’s and 60’s, on the Facebook page “You could be from the Faison NC area, if you remember ……………” and eventually to be compiled in this website as “Memoirs of Growing up in Faison, NC in the 1950’s and 60’s” by M. Ronald Oates, Jr. (a collection of adventuresome activities and other memories)… I have had a great life, both professionally and personally!!
Looking Forward on Life
Now, I have “turned my attention” to where it all began ….. Faison, North Carolina … , where I grew up across from the Baptist Church, and plan to devote myself and apply my experiences in what ever way that can be most helpful to the town where I got my start and preparation for an unknown, but exciting, future.
I am a goals-oriented person and have identified four projects that I would like to pursue in 2015. These are:
1) develop a website about the history of Faison with pictures, in part, to help me learn more about the town where I grew up. This project has manifested itself into the website, FaisonDepot.com and the work that I am now involved with Anne Stroud Taylor and the Faison Museum Committee.
2) promote the honoring of the Vietnam veterans, from my generation, that never received the “Welcome Home” that they deserved. The Faison Area is a patriotic area, that can count 500 veterans from all wars. Our area did not treat its Vietnam veterans like they were treated in other parts of the country. We have always been proud of our veterans and they have been honored by the Duplin County Veterans Association and Museum. My goal is to promote activities to specifically honor the Vietnam veterans of the Faison Area….. The first such step has been by creating the pages, “Remembering our Veterans“, and “Our Boys in Vietnam“, at the above referenced website, FaisonDepot.com.
3) in collaboration with Anne Stroud Taylor, who is an active member of the Duplin County Veterans Commission, we developed the idea to organize an event in Faison to honor the Faison Area Vietnam Veterans, whose numbers are dwindling each year. The event was tentatively planned for the period near Veterans Day. This project and event has expanded to include all of our veterans, including other wars….. An artist was commissioned to paint a picture, titled “Our Boys in Vietnam“.
FIG liked what we were planning and this idea has been adopted as the theme for Market Day 2015. Initial planning has begun and the synergies gained promises to produce an even greater event for our veterans. The theme for Market Day will be “From the Farm Fields to the Battle Fields”, since many of our veterans grew up on farms in the Faison area or worked at the “Faison Produce Market”…. Further, “Our Boys in Vietnam” will serve as the Market Day 2015 Painting. ….. Working as a team, Faison continues to prove that “the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts”….. Through the joint efforts and enthusiasm of the members of FIG and the Museum Committee, Market Day 2015 could potentially be the “best event ever held in Faison”….
4) produce a book, titled “Our Boys in Vietnam”. The outline for this book was shared with the members of the Faison Facebook page earlier in 2015.
Life is short…. We can not afford to put off until tomorrow, what we can do today.
Parents: Myrtie & Ronald Oates, Sr.
Their legacy: “strong work etiquette, honesty, reliability, dependability, and more”
Myrtie and Ronald Oates (1990)
TBT – August 1971
Oldest Daughter, Kathy
TBT – 1992
Kathy Oates at age 16
(yes, she got her beautiful hair (and color) from her grandmother, Myrtie Oates)
Kathy is an NC State graduate and marathon runner. Husband Mark, also graduated from NC State.
Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox
Kathy – Marathoner
Youngest Daughter, Nancy
Nancy with Mr. Wuf (NC State mascot)
College Cheerleading Nationals at Daytona Beach, Florida
N.C. State University finished second behind the University of Louisville.
Carter-Finley Stadium and Gator Bowl Parade in Jacksonville, Fla. and a victory over Notre Dame
After Graduation – Cheering from the Stands
Once a “Wolfpack” Cheerleader, Always a “Wolfpack” Cheerleader
tbt Nancy Oates with neighbor in Piano Duet at Age 9
Sisters “cut’n up”
Good Girl, Bad Girl Routine
[Kathy praying & Nancy drinking a bottle of wine]
Merry Christmas Faison
from the Ron Oates Family
Kathy, Ron, Nancy, and Linda
Ron [NCSU], Ann [ECU], and Rudy [UNC]
Amateur Radio Operator, AA4VK
DXpedition & International Travel Wall