Lloyd O’Neil Tate of Montreat died Monday, October 19, 2020, at the North Carolina State Veterans’ Home in Black Mountain. He was the husband of Leith Morgan Tate, and a proud father and grandfather.
He was born May 23, 1933 in Tupelo, Mississippi, to William Ezra Tate and Jettye Beasley Tate. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by brothers William F. 'Bill' Tate and Harold Tate, and grandson Miles Gregory Johnson.
He went to Tupelo High School. He was an Eagle Scout and continued to work closely with the 'Explorers' troop in Tupelo. He received a football scholarship to the University of Mississippi, and after two years he joined the Aviation branch of the U.S. Navy and served for 4 years during the Korean conflict in Guam, Hawaii, French Indochina, Hong Kong, Midway Island, and at the Alameda Air Station in California.
After his military service he earned his degree at Ole Miss, then returned to Tupelo to work with his brother Bill. He became a principal in the firm IFM, which was the largest insurance agency in Northeast Mississippi. O’Neil's first wife was Sarah Doxey Tate, and they were key figures in bringing the arts to Tupelo. O'Neil is survived by their four children: son William H. Tate, wife Galyna, and their son Andrew of Durham, NC; daughters Katherine 'Bitzi' Tate of Jackson, MS; Marisa Tate Stone and husband John of Tucson, AZ, and their daughters Sarah, Katherine, and Mary Simpson Stone; daughter Frances Tate Johnson and her sons Tate and Jett Johnson of Starkville, MS; nieces Ellen Short of Tupelo and Becky Cade of Jackson, MS; and a son-in-law Greg Johnson.
In 1986 he married his wife Leith, and is survived by Leith and their daughters Helen Tate Snyder and husband Luke, and their children Wren, Nell, and Muir of Arnoldsville, GA; and Emily Tate of Swannanoa, NC. He also leaves behind grandsons Allen Ullrich and his brothers Dawson and Reed.
In 1992 he and Leith and their two small daughters moved from Tupelo to Montreat, where O’Neil worked for the National Association of the Self-Employed before retiring. In retirement he served as a Montreat Town Commissioner from 1999–2011, and served actively on the Town of Montreat Landcare Council, and as a Montreat Conference Center Wilderness Committee volunteer. O’Neil’s leadership secured Montreat as the first Wildlife Habitat Community in North Carolina by the National Wildlife Federation. He worked to help dozens of homeowners achieve certification as backyard wildlife habitats. He was passionate about stewardship of the earth’s resources, and served tirelessly to make Montreat a special place of conservation and natural beauty.
He also was a member of the Montreat Scottish Society, the Montreat Trail Club, the Montreat Cottagers, and he faithfully worked as a volunteer in multiple roles, including at the Nature Center and as a hike leader. He had been an active member of the Tupelo First United Methodist Church, and he & Leith joined the Black Mountain United Methodist Church in 1993.
O’Neil was an avid tennis player and spent many wonderful years playing mostly doubles with his tennis pals in Tupelo, Montreat, and Black Mountain. He co-owned Sabin-Mulloy-Garrison Tennis Camps in Clermont, FL, in the ‘70s and ‘80s where many young players were trained in the art of tennis.
He was extremely proud of all of his children and grandchildren. He was a friend to many and loved a good laugh.
He will be interred at the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Black Mountain. A drop-in celebratory reception is planned for 1:00–3:00 Monday, October 26, at the Black Mountain United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. Covid-19 safety guidelines will be followed.
The family is indebted to the care O’Neil received over many years at the Charles George VA Medical Center and at the Mountain Care Adult Day Services program--both in Asheville, and at the NC State Veterans’ Home in Black Mountain.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Black Mountain United Methodist Church, Montreat Conference Center, or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.