Originally created 02/25/02

Featured obituary: Mr. Waddell Hearst Pate



Waddell Hearst Pate, a business entrepreneur and real-estate developer whose life spanned most of the past century, died Friday at University Hospital.

Mr. Pate was born in 1905. When he was a child, he found a beached submarine filled with German sailors on Carolina Beach in Wilmington, N.C. He went home and told his father they smelled "like dogs" after being shut up in the submarine, said Mr. Pate's stepson, Aaron Green.

Mr. Pate's father, Alexander Waddell Pate, built the first road and the first railroad to Carolina Beach from Wilmington. The son built and operated the Greystone Hotel at Carolina Beach, where the shag is said to have been invented Mr. Green said.

The shag was invented not at Myrtle Beach, but on the rooftop garden of the Greystone, where many big bands such as those of Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey, performed he said.

Mr. Pate built and ran his own gym at the Greystone and became the Golden Gloves boxing champion of North Carolina in 1937 and 1938.

He later bought the Greystone Hotel in Florence, S.C., from the Chase and Sanborn Coffee estate. He came to Augusta in the late 1930s and bought the Shirley Hotel on Greene Street, now known as the Cobb House, and the Plaza Hotel. He also owned the Hamilton Hotel on Greene Street, where a municipal parking deck is now located, and the Cardinal Motel on Deans Bridge Road, which he advertised with the tallest sign in Augusta. The motel is gone now, but the sign is still there.

He also developed Hillcrest Memorial Park real estate.

He built a "country place" on Golden Camp Road, where he enjoyed the equestrian life and entertained leading politicians of the day such as Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders, Mr. Green said.

Mr. Pate was a serious collector of surreys with the fringe on top, carriages and cabriolets. He bought a U.S. government warship after World War II and got a captain's license to command it. He enjoyed buying and selling warships after the war and made a great deal of money doing so.

"He also was a great pilot and flew his own planes for years and was a member of the Augusta pilots group," Mr. Green said.

When Mr. Pate was 88 years old, he stopped by the post office in Augusta to pick up his mail one night, and a man put a knife to his back and ordered him to give him all his money.

"He took his right elbow and knocked that man silly," Mr. Green said. "They rolled around and around on the ground, and he was a bloody mess. But he took the knife away from the guy."

Mr. Pate then drove to the sheriff's department to report the incident. They took one look at him and called an ambulance, Mr. Green said.

Mr. Pate is survived by his wife, Mildred Green Pate; two daughters; two stepchildren; and seven grandchildren.

The funeral will be at 1 p.m. today at Curtis Baptist Church, with Dr. Mark E. Harris and the Rev. Sherrell Dunn officiating. Interment will be in Hillcrest Memorial Park.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylviaco@augustachronicle.com.