Cdr. Robert Hunter (“Bob” or “Bobby”) Tate, Jr., age 84, died August 1, 2018 at home in Southern Pines, North Carolina.  Throughout his life, Bob dedicated himself to the service of his country and his community. Bob’s military career began at New Hanover High School in the ROTC program, and continued with NROTC at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  After graduating from UNC, class of 1957, Bob reported for duty as an Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer aboard the USS Allen M. Sumner, under the command of Captain Oller.  While serving off the coast of Cape Hatteras, the ship was visited by Secretary of Defense Neil McElroy, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Arleigh Burke, and Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Jerauld Wright.  Bob completed his required service and was discharged in 1958. He went on to work as a loan officer trainee with Cooperative Savings and Loan in Wilmington, NC, but continued to be affiliated with the local Ready Reserve Naval Unit.  In July 1960, he was recalled to active duty by his former commanding officer to serve as a gunnery officer on the USS Kidd.  Bob sailed the Mediterranean from Spain to Italy, soaking up culture and stories.  He served as administrative officer for the Joint Staff of the Defense Communications Agency in Spain, Italy, and Africa; Operations Officer, USS Rushmore; Resource Management Officer, Commander Training Command U.S. Atlantic Fleet; Executive Officer USS Rushmore; Logistics Officer Commander Amphibious Group 2; Joint Services Training Director, U.S. Military Mission to Turkey; and Director of Training and Executive Officer, Fleet Training Center, Norfolk, VA.  One of the proudest moments of Bob’s career was when he was promoted to “XO” of the USS Rushmore within 45 days of the ship entering a badly needed overhaul.  The Rushmore then deployed to the Mediterranean as part of Amphibious Squadron 6.  Seven months later, the Rushmore returned to CONUS, having been received the PHIBRON 6 Battle Efficiency “E” award.  Subsequently, the USS Rushmore was awarded the PHIBLAN Battle “E” as well, and nominated for the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy.  Bob retired from the Navy in 1978 after a very rewarding Naval career with a lifetime of tales.

While in the Navy, Bob met his future wife, Mary Francis Howe Tate, born in Hamlet, NC and raised in Buffalo, NY.  Bob and Mary Francis met in 1965 in Wrightsville Beach, NC, and were married at the Village Chapel in Pinehurst, NC in 1966.  Upon Bob’s retirement from the Navy, the Tates moved with their three children to Southern Pines, NC, were Bob began a career in real estate.

Bob served his community as a member of the Planning Board of the Town of Southern Pines from 1981–1992 and was named Chairman twice;  by shepherding the adoption of the Town’s UDO, thus preserving equestrian rights in Southern Pines; as President of the Southern Pines Business Association in 1989; as a member of Southern Pines Rotary Club, serving as its president in 1990 and becoming recognized as a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow; as President of the Pinehurst-Southern Pines Area Association of Realtors in 1992; as Chairman of North Carolina Association of Realtors’ Legislative Affairs Committee, 1993-1994; and as founding Director of the Carolina Horse Park Foundation, 1998-2002.  Bob served for 12 years on the board of the North Carolina Veterinary Medicine Foundation, and was instrumental in raising funds for the Randall B. Terry, Jr. Companion Animal Veterinary Medical Center.  He also continued to be active with the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Bob is survived by his wife of 52 years, Mary Francis “Muff” Howe Tate, by his son, Robert Hunter Tate, III (Tammy) and two daughters, Mary Elizabeth Tate and Charlotte Anna Tate, DVM, and by two grandchildren, Alexander Carson Tate and Emily Stevenson Tate.

Bob was a member of Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church, where he sang in the choir.  A memorial service will be held at the church, located at 330 South May Street in Southern Pines on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at 11:00 AM.  A reception and visitation with the family will be held in the fellowship hall following the service.

Memorials may be made in Bob’s name to Brownson Church Music Department for Choral Music.

Online condolences may be made at

Services are entrusted to Boles funeral Home of Southern Pines.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email