The end of an era came April 18, 2011 at 6:10 a.m. when William Wilson Pate, Jr. passed away at the age of 80.
The name ‘Billy Pate’ is linked with fly fishing records, a 35 year long collaboration with Ted Jurascik’s Billy Pate fly reels, Billy Pate the angler, the author, the water skier with Dick Pope Jr., a true southern gentlemen. Billy made, and kept friends, for many years. Dick Pope Jr., Joe Hudson, Jay Spivak, George Hommell, Ted Jurascik, Johnny Morris and Raz Reid to name a few.
Billy was an innovator, unsurpassed as a fly fisherman, knowledgeable, a true sportsman.
He made many videos, but the most well known is the one in Key West with Capt. Nat Ragland and the other in Homosassa, FL., with his long time friend Capt. Lee Baker.
Born in South Carolina on September 18, 1930, Billy fished over the years with many known professional captains: Capt. Hank Brown, Capt. Billy Knowles, Capt Nat Ragland, Capt. John Kipp and Capt Lee Baker, but for the last 30 years of his life he fished mainly with one?.Capt. Lee Baker. Billy fished the Islamorada Invitational Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament where he was Grand Champion four times (twice with Capt. Baker). He and Boyd Walker started the Golden Fly Invitational Tarpon Tournament where he won the first year with Capt. Baker. Lee and Billy fished the Costa Rica Fly Sailfish Tournament were they were partners – and they won. Many times Billy and Lee traveled to Costa Rica just to fish – and fish they did?once for 21 straight days!
Billy and Capt. George Hommell started World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada – a premier tackle shop with the finest angling travel agency attached. If you fished you wanted World Wide to book your travel for they were experts. Billy and George later sold to Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops and you will still find World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada.
Billy married and divorced several times over the years, but in 2004 he found Tetyana Kushynskaya in Ukraine. She is a tall, beautiful woman with flaming red hair, a concert pianist and teacher who soon became known to all as just Yana. His friends found her to be one of the most kind, thoughtful, considerate and loveable ladies in the world. He had the good sense to marry her and bring her to Islamorada where she has delighted all.
For the last four years of Billy’s life Yana took amazing care of him as he sank into Alzheimer’s. Her patience, dedication and strength kept him well fed, clean, safe and she took him everyplace with her. Those of you who have cared for a loved one with this dreadful disease will know what an effort this is and the toll it takes on family and friends. No one could have done any better.
Yana, Lee and Lee’s wife, Suzan Baker, met at Billy’s bedside for a private service and then made arrangements for Billy to be cremated. A memorial will be held in a several weeks in the Everglades National Park area where all will be invited to come for a service and symbolic laying of a wreath.
– Suzan Baker