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People of Alabama: Leonard Bates of Grand Bay

“One of the biggest lessons that life has taught me probably is it’s not always what you think it is. I’m almost 81 years old. What I’ve learned is not to think that the first impression is the right thing. By that I mean, you might think it’s one thing and just as soon as you get to know the person, or the thing, everything might be a lot different than what you know it is, and usually better. Sometimes, you can’t judge a person by their appearance. That’s one of my lessons that I’m really learning now. God looks at the heart, man looks at the outward appearance, and I’m a man. I have judged people by their outward appearance and have been fooled many times. I’m so thankful that God has allowed me to know that person long enough to find out who they are and not who you think they are.” – Leonard Bates of Grand Bay

Bates loves living in Grand Bay and all the things Alabama has to offer.

“We’ve got some of the best seafood in the world. There’s nothing like the oysters and the shrimp. They are the best. In north Alabama, you have a mountainous area, and then you come on down south and you’ve got the beaches and a lot of good fishing. The whole state is good for fishing and hunting and a lot of recreation. Good people, you know? And I love going to church. I think that’s why we have a lot of good people.”

Leonard Bates of Grand Bay has always wanted to go skydiving. (Tamika Moore / People of Alabama)

Bates worked for Chevron in Pascagoula for many years and said one thing he has always wanted to do is to skydive.

“I have always wanted to jump out of an airplane because the thrill of floating down through the clouds. I got close enough to the airport one time and almost enrolled in lessons and I chickened out. The older I get, I’m not going to lose much if the parachute don’t open.”

These are the faces and stories of people from all walks of life who call Alabama home. People of Alabama is a Red Clay Media and Alabama NewsCenter partnership.