William “Billy” Wilson Pate, Jr. ’50

William “Billy” Wilson Pate, Jr. ’50 passed away April 18 at the age of 80. Born in Greenville, S.C., he was a son of the late William Wilson and Alethea Beckham Fennell Pate, and the brother of the late Wallace Fennell Pate, Sr. ’55. He graduated from Davidson and served in the U.S. Navy. He was president of Wunda Weve Carpet Co. in Greenville, S.C. The name “Billy Pate” is linked with fly fishing records, a 35-year long collaboration with Ted Jurascik’s Billy Pate fly reels, the angler, the author, the water skier with Dick Pope, Jr., and a true Southern gentleman. Pate was an innovator, unsurpassed as a fly fisherman, knowledgeable, a true sportsman. He made many videos, but the two most well-known are the one in Key West with Capt. Nat Ragland and the other in Homosassa, Fla., with Capt. Lee Baker. He was regarded as one of the world’s foremost big-game fly fishermen. He may be best known for his 188-pound world record tarpon caught on 16-pound tippet. He held more significant saltwater fly fishing records than any other angler. He was the first angler to catch a blue marlin on a fly rod, the first to catch a black marlin on fly, and the first to catch six billfish species on fly: blue, black, white, and striped marlin, and Atlantic and Pacific sailfish. He also set records for mako shark, jack crevalle, bonefish, channel bass, grouper, and redfish. Pate fished over the years with many well known professionals, but for the last 30 years of his life he fished mainly with one-Capt. Lee Baker. Pate fished the Islamorada Invitational Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament, where he was Grand Champion four times (twice with Capt. Baker). He and Boyd Walker started the Golden Fly Invitational Tarpon Tournament, where he won the first year with Capt. Baker. Baker and Pate fished the Costa Rica Fly Sailfish Tournament where they were partners-and they won. Many times they traveled to Costa Rica just to fish-and fish they did… once for 21 straight days! Pate and Capt. George Hommell started World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada-a premier tackle shop with the finest angling travel agency attached. If you fished you wanted World Wide to book your travel for they were experts. Pate and Hommell sold 28 years later to Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops, and you will still find World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada. He was the founder and/or past board member of the following: Everglades Protection Association, Trout Unlimited, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, the Don Hawley Foundation, and the Pate Foundation. He was a member of the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame, the Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club, Islamorada Fishing Club, and Club Limited. Pate was inducted into the IGFA International Fishing Hall of Fame in 2003. Pate married and divorced several times over the years, but in 2004 he found Tetyana “Yana” Kushynskaya in Ukraine. She is a concert pianist and teacher who soon became known to all as just Yana. He had the good sense to marry her and bring her to Islamorada, where she has delighted all. For the last four years of Pate’s life, Yana took amazing care of him as he sank into Alzheimer’s. Her patience, dedication, and strength kept him well-fed, clean, safe, and she took him everyplace with her. Pate is survived by his wife, Yana Pate, 80908 Overseas Hwy., Islamorada, FL 33036-3792; five nieces and nephews, Stella Law Pate Ford, Wallace Fennell Pate, Jr., Dorothy Pate Bridgers, Beckham Pate Dunbar, and John McDonald Pate; and seven great-nieces and four great-nephews. He was preceded in death by one great-nephew.