Senators Mourn Longtime Clerk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 7, 1999; Page A12
The Senate clerk whose sonorous voice had became familiar to Americans during roll call votes at President Clinton's impeachment trial was eulogized on the Senate floor yesterday as a good friend and an admirable colleague.
Scott Bates, the Senate's legislative clerk, was struck and killed Friday night while crossing the street with his wife, Ricki Ellison Bates, near their Arlington home. His wife was critically injured.
Senators opened yesterday's trial session with prayers and a moment of silence for Bates, 50, who worked at the Senate for almost 30 years. Flowers were placed on his desk, and his chair at the polished stone desk below the presiding officer's chair was draped with a black ribbon.
"Senators come, and senators go, but Scott has been a fixture in this Senate for the last 30 years," said Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) in eulogizing Bates. "He was not just a co-worker; he was a friend and a great guy."
Bates and his wife were crossing Lee Highway (Route 29) near Harrison Street, a well-lighted, busy commercial corner with restaurants, banks and video-rental outlets, about 6:30 p.m. on the rainy evening. They were struck by a Mazda sedan headed east, Arlington police said.
The couple were flown by helicopter to Washington Hospital Center. Scott Bates died a few hours later. Ricki Bates, 49, was in serious but stable condition, a hospital spokeswoman said yesterday.
The car's driver was taken to Arlington Hospital. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, said Cpl. Justin McNaull, Arlington police spokesman. A nursing supervisor at the hospital said she believed the driver, whose identity has not been released, had been treated and released. Police are continuing to investigate the accident.
In his brief eulogy, Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), the minority leader, described Bates as being for years "an integral part of the history created in this chamber."
He said said Bates came to Washington from Arkansas in 1970 as an intern in the Senate bill clerk's office. He eventually became bill clerk and was credited with developing the first automated record-keeping system in the Senate.
Bates worked his way up to the legislative clerk's post about eight years ago and became somewhat of a minor celebrity during the Senate trial in recent weeks with his deep-voiced rhythmic recitation of senators' names during roll call votes.
Behind the scenes, Bates also played an important role on the staff during the trial, said Senate Parliamentarian Robert B. Dove said. "In many ways, he's been the lead person," Dove said, with "so much to do that is new."
Neighbors said Bates and his wife, a secretary at Drew Model School in Arlington, frequently went for evening walks.
They have three children, Lori and Lisa, both college students, and Paul, an eighth-grader at Swanson Middle School. Neighbors said the couple were active volunteers in their children's schools.
Arlington school system spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said Ricki Bates has been active in efforts to improve school-office services to parents and is "very, very well-respected."
Neighbors remembered Bates as a generous man who cleared snow from an elderly neighbor's walkway. David Bell, clerk of the Arlington County Circuit Court and a friend of Bates's, said the two had joked recently about Bates's newly visible position in the televised trial.
"He called me recently and asked him, 'How do you clerk a trial?' Bell recalled. "We were laughing about it."
Washington Post staff writers Avis Thomas-Lester and Martin Weil and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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