Family Donates Seashell Collection to HRI to Celebrate Memory of Richard A. Bates

Bates Shell Collection Donation

The family of Richard “Rich” A. Bates, a long-time resident of Corpus Christi, recently made a special donation of Bates’ extensive collection of seashells to the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to honor the late father and husband’s memory and wishes. The shell collection will be used by HRI for outreach and education purposes.

Bates’ wife and stepdaughter, Elaine Bates and Lisa A. Webb, were given a tour of HRI labs and learned about the Institute’s research groups during their visit.

“My stepdad was a lover of the sea, and he taught others to love it as well,” Webb said. “He would be so happy to know that the shells went to such an amazing institution.”

Bates served in the United States Navy Nursing Corps as a Certified Operating Room Nurse from 1960 to 1992. His favorite tour of duty was on the U.S. island territory of Guam, which is where his family says many of the shells in his collection originated in the 1970s.

“Rich really was a teacher,” Bates said. “He loved to teach, he loved seashells, he loved the beach, and just really wanted to protect them, where they came from, and the sea in general.”

An overall outdoorsman, Bates enjoyed diving, fishing, and hunting and even participated in the Coast Guard Auxiliary as a search and rescue coxswain and a boating safety instructor. Bates was born in Missouri but called Corpus Christi home for many years. Bates passed away in January 2023.

“As soon as he arrived in Corpus in 1984, he loved it immediately,” Bates said.

Bates continued by saying that it was very important to her and Rich to be good stewards of the Earth. She added that she was happy to have the collection go to HRI, that she knew Rich would have loved everything the Institute does not just for the Gulf of Mexico, but for all coastal and marine resources.