Throughout Burke County a number of bridges and roads stand as monuments, honoring the legacies of those who played a significant role in the county’s history. Many local citizens and visitors to the county pass over those bridges and highways every day without knowing the significance of those being honored. Hopefully, a short series of stories will enlighten those who may have wondered who they were.
A bridge that crosses Brier Creek on Highway 56 North, reminds us of another local leader, Frank M. Cates born in 1890.
Cates was instrumental in establishing Burke County Hospital and served as Chairman of the Hospital Authority Board from 1945 until his death in July 1959 at the age of 69. An editorial written that month by Publisher Roy F. Chalker Sr. describes Cates as the “strongest public figure to emerge in Burke County in a quarter of a century.”
Cates served twice on the Burke County Board of Commissioners from 1924-1932 and 1945-1948. He served in the State House of Representatives from 1943-1952. He was a Mason and served on the Board of Deacons at the First Baptist Church. He also served as a state senator and Assistant to the Commissioner of Agriculture. One of his favorite projects included the Agricultural Experiment Station near Midville.
“His friendships included the humblest farm hand and some of the most prominent men on the state and national levels,” Chalker Sr. wrote.