Local couple make special gift to DWU’s music department
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Dakota Wesleyan University’s music department has a new name, thanks to benefactors Ron and Sheilah Gates, of Mitchell.
The university recognized the Gateses for their generous donation toward the music program Thursday during Opening Convocation and announced the naming of the Ron and Sheilah Gates Department of Music.
“The generosity of Ron and Sheilah will allow DWU to strategically enhance the resources committed to music,” said DWU President Amy Novak. “We plan to hire another faculty member to support an instrumental music program. Additionally, the program will benefit from an endowment that will provide support for music at DWU for years to come.”
The local couple has been generous toward the college in numerous ways, including sponsorship of last year’s spring musical, “Les Miserablés.” The Gateses also made a donation to the Corrigan Health Sciences Center, naming the Arlene Gates Department of Nursing after Ron’s late wife.
“The generosity of Ron and Sheilah Gates has touched so many lives on this campus, and now we have this extraordinary opportunity to support our growing music program,” said Dr. Clinton Desmond, choral director for the Ron and Sheilah Gates Department of Music. “Their support over the years is really more than philanthropy, it’s friendship, and we’ve felt that keenly here at DWU.”
Sheilah has lived in the Midwest her entire life and made her home in Le Mars and Orange City, Iowa. Her love of music and the arts can be traced back to her grandmother who played piano for the silent movie theatre, organ for the church and conducted church choirs. Sheilah was drum majorette for her high school marching band and clarinetist for concert band as well as the community band, and she was also active in drama and theatre. She attended business college and worked at various places through the years as an administrative assistant. While she was a stay-at-home mother, she was a future director for the Mary Kay organization. Sheilah volunteers for her church, and enjoyed volunteering for the Christian Women’s Club and at her children’s schools when they were young. Sheilah and Ron were married in 2012. Sheilah’s son, Curtis and his wife, Mary Puetz, live in Sioux Center, and her daughter, Crisinda and husband, Randy Tackett, live in Kettering, Ohio.
Ron, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, is a Navy veteran. He has been a part of the Mitchell community more than 50 years. In 1969, he and his late wife, Arlene, purchased the Mitchell Retirement Nursing Center and assumed ownership of the Firesteel Healthcare Center in 1984. An industry leader, Ron has been vice president of the board of directors of the South Dakota Healthcare Association and a member of the South Dakota State Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators. He is a member of the First United Methodist Church, where he has served on the Staff Parish Committee and has chaired the Administrative Board. He has also been involved in the Rotary Club and the Rotary Foundation and Exchange Program, and is a past member of the DWU Board of Trustees. In 1990, Ron and Arlene Gates received the DWU Outstanding Citizens Award. Ron’s son, Ron Jr., and his wife, Rose, live in Mitchell; and his daughter, Laurie Robinson and husband, Mark, live in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The first performance of the Ron and Sheilah Gates Department of Music will be the Choral Hymn Festival on Oct. 5 at Mitchell First United Methodist Church. For a complete schedule, visit www.dwu.edu.