Rupert George Pate, 96, of Burlington, NC, passed away peacefully at Kindred Hospital in Greensboro on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

He was born in Goldsboro, NC and spent most of his adult life in Burlington.


He is survived by Florence “Skip” Pate, his wife of 71 years. He is also survived by his daughter, Shyrlynn Pate, of Burlington; two sons, Rupert “Pete” Pate, Jr. and his wife, Jane, of Burlington, and Carlyle Pate of Boone; one brother, Fletcher Earl Pate of Raleigh; five grandchildren, Shawn Meeks, Kimberly Meeks, Travis Pate, Christopher Pate and Joshua Pate; six great-grandchildren, Leo Pate, Eli Pate, Connor Pate, Macy Pate, Kierstyn Rowe and Levi Meeks and one great-great-grandchild, Zachery Meeks.

Rupert attended Wake Forest College where he excelled in football; he was chosen captain of the team in 1939, made All State and All Southern Conference and played in the 1939 Blue-Gray Football Bowl. He joined the professional Chicago Cardinals team in 1940 and played with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1941-1942. Until his passing, he was one of the oldest surviving professional football players. Rupert was elected to Goldsboro High School’s Hall of Fame in 1989.

He served in World War II from 1943 to 1945, earning a Battle Star in the Battle of the Bulge.

Rupert worked in auto sales for most of his adult life and later retired from Lab Corp.

He loved his church, Hocutt Memorial Baptist Church, serving there for over 55 years as Deacon, Sunday School Teacher and choir member. He had a beautiful bass voice and would sing whenever the occasion arose. He once sang with the Men of Alamance. He was named Deacon for Life by his church. He especially enjoyed visiting those who were homebound.

Rupert played golf with his buddies until he was 92 years old at Indian Valley Golf Course.

A funeral service will be held Friday, May 23, 2014 at 11:00 am in the Rich and Thompson Chapel. Officiating will be the Rev. Jimmy Nickelston. Burial will follow in Pine Hill Cemetery.

The family will receive friends at the funeral home for one hour prior to the service, from 10:00 to 11:00.

Memorials may be made to Hospice & Palliative Care of Alamance-Caswell, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215.

Rich and Thompson Funeral Home, in Burlington, is in charge of the arrangements.

Announcement courtesy of Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service.

Funeral Homes