|Peg Leg Bates|
Coping with adversity
Clayton 'Peg Leg' Bates
Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates, 91, a tap dancer who overcame losing a leg in a childhood accident and had a long career that included frequent performances on "The Ed Sullivan Show," died of a heart attack Dec. 6 in his native Fountain Inn, S.C.
Mr. Bates danced Saturday as part of a celebration in Fountain Inn, which was trying to raise money for a life-size sculpture of him to be placed at City Hall. Bates was given the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest honor, and called it the proudest moment of his life. He died Sunday after collapsing on his way to church.
"He was so full of life last night," said Henry Berry Jr., president of the Peg Leg Bates Foundation. "He had no pains, and he felt good. I thank God he was able to come home one last time."
At the age of 5, Mr. Bates danced for pennies and nickels on the streets of the Fountain Inn. He lost his left leg during an accident at a cotton-gin when he was 12. He learned to dance again with a wooden leg that his uncle whittled. He performed across the United States and Europe. He made at least 22 appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and once danced for the king and queen of England.
He retired in 1989 but kept performing for youth, handicapped and senior citizen groups.
"He was an inspiration to everyone he met because of his accomplishments in the face of adversity," said Bates' daughter, Melodye Bates-Holden. "He would help anyone in any way he could."
Thanks to Sue Fedor for sending this to us.
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