Fri. Aug. 4, 2017
11:30 am - 12:00 pm
Houston National Cemetery
10410 Veterans Memorial Drive
Houston , TX 77038.
Fri. Aug. 4, 2017
5:00 pm
Watzek Family Pavilion
26380 Magnolia Road
Hockley , TX 77447.
In Memory of
Linda Ann (Wallace) Cates

Linda Ann (Wallace) Cates passed on, peacefully, in the early morning hours of July Fourth with her husband and friend of 37 years by her side.  This marked the end of her three-year, hard-fought battle against a rare form of cancer.  

Linda was born on January 19, 1957 in Muncie, Indiana to Harold Warren Wallace II and Jane Ann (Isanogel) Wallace, the first of five children (followed by Barbara, Tom, Karen, and Steve).  She was raised in a close and loving family in Indianapolis, Indiana and was an active member of the Castleton United Methodist Church.  In school, she excelled academically and athletically as a member of the National Honor Society and Model UN and as a stand-out player on the Varsity Tennis team, respectively.  Socially, she was well-liked by her peers (as she was throughout her life), many of whom went on to become life-long friends.  She graduated from Lawrence Central High School in 1975 and headed south to Waco, Texas for her undergraduate education.
She attended Baylor University from 1975 to 1976 and subsequently returned home to be closer to family, attending Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  There, she was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education in 1979 (she eventually went on to complete her Masters in Education in 2009).  
Unable to shake her love for Texas (and because she wanted to meet a ‘cowboy’ and go to Gilley's), she moved to Houston in 1980 and began her teaching career.  This was also the year she met the love of her life, Billy (William Austin Cates, Jr.).  With short, neon green shorts, a boot-camp-honed physique, and a little acrobatic skill (back flips off the side of their apartment swimming pool), he won her over, and their life-long relationship began.  They were wed on New Year’s Eve, 1982.

On July 3, 1983 Linda and Billy gave birth to their first child, Robert Austin Cates.  Their daughter, Mary Elizabeth Ann Cates, would be born shortly thereafter on November 9, 1984.  For the next 10 years Robert and Mary would be the most important things in Linda’s life, ensuring that they were raised in the most outstanding fashion.  She was adamant that they excel in school, sports, and life.  On January 8, 1994, William Thomas Cates became the youngest addition to the Cates family, igniting a very special mother-son relationship.  Linda continued to work tirelessly and selflessly in raising her three children.  

Linda’s life revolved around Robert, Mary, and Will. There was nothing that made her happier than seeing her children succeed in each of their endeavors. She made sure they were always well-dressed and fed, that they completed all homework and assignments on time and well (B’s were not acceptable), and that they tried their hardest in whatever sport they were playing at the time.  There was never any down-time with Linda in charge—weekends were usually booked with sporting events and summers, aside from sports, were filled with camps, classes, vacations, and of course, the pool.  She made sure she was present at every single school event, sports practice, game, and other special events in their lives, in-state or out-of-state.  This required a significant amount of driving to and from school, multiple times per day and night, and even back to the store for food after 10 or 11 PM!  She regularly drove several hours to make sure that her children’s dorm rooms were clean and that their laundry was washed and folded. She was instrumental in their life and success thus far.

In 2003, Billy was called up to active duty in the United States Marine Corps.  He would spend the next 7 years at various bases around the country and one year in Iraq (2006-2007).  Throughout this stressful time, Linda remained strong and positive, continuing to drive her children to be the best they could be.

Apart from her family, teaching was the next most important part of Linda’s life. She taught elementary education for 37 years, working and volunteering until the last few months of her life.  Even on the ‘bad days’ (while receiving chemotherapy), she went to school to be with the children she loved.  She truly cared about them and went above and beyond to make sure they had the best chance they could to excel in life.  She would bring in ‘fun’ pencils, M&M's (her favorite candy), and other treats regularly to share with them as she worked to help them blossom.  Her teaching partners were her best friends in and out of school and were supportive throughout her career.  She was a Cy-Fair ISD teacher of the year in 2009.  Teaching was truly her passion.

In April 2014, Linda was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor (PNET).  She was treated at Mayo Clinic, Houston Methodist Hospital and MD Anderson, and cared for by the ‘best possible medical team in the world’ (Dr. Mark Lewis and her family).  While the cancer certainly took a toll on her life, the treatment and care that she received gave her time to enjoy her remaining years with those that mattered most.

Linda was delighted to welcome her first grandchild, Austin James Cates, on May 5, 2015 and her first granddaughter, Lily Ann Watzek, on April 11, 2016.  She was so excited to have grandchildren and loved them dearly.  She constantly showed pictures and videos of Austin and Lily to her friends, family, coworkers, and students. If she was not in Minnesota visiting, she was Facetiming with Austin daily.  She visited Lily on a near daily basis to enjoy ‘Popsicle Happy Hour’ and play with bubbles at Mary’s house.

Knowing that she had a third grandchild on the way, she bit down and continued her fight to live (typical Linda…always putting her children first).  Caroline Reese Cates was born on May 1, 2017 and on May 20th Linda and all her children and grandchildren were able to unite one last time.  Linda fought ferociously, tirelessly, and selflessly, but ultimately outlived current medical technology.  She spent the last months and days of her life with her husband caring for her 24/7, in the company of family and friends.

Linda and Billy built a truly wonderful life together.  They enjoyed camping, gardening, going on walks, road-tripping, and most of all, raising and watching Robert, Mary, and Will succeed in all aspects of life.

Linda was an outstanding and amazing individual.  She was an infinitely devoted wife, mother, grandma, sister, aunt, friend, teacher and volunteer.  Over the past few days since Linda's passing, her family has received an overwhelming amount of love and support from her former friends, colleagues and students. With everything she did, she put her entire heart and soul into it.  She was the purest, kindest, and happiest person.  Billy referred to her as an ‘Angel on Earth’.  She was so loved and will be greatly missed.  

She always told her children that “everything happens for a reason”, and perhaps, it is for this reason that she ‘went out with a bang’ in the early morning hours of July Fourth!  Her husband and children are certain that she entered the gates of Heaven with a gleaming smile, wearing her Ray Ban sunglasses, and flashing her trademarked peace signs.

Linda is preceded in death by her father, HW Tom Wallace II, mother, Jane Ann Wallace, and sister, Barbara Jane McClain.  She is survived by her husband, William (Bill) Austin Cates, Jr., son and daughter-in-law, Robert Austin and Rebecca Faye Cates, their children, Austin James and Caroline Reese; her daughter and son-in-law, Mary Elizabeth Ann and Kurt Stephen Watzek, Jr., their daughter Lily Ann; and her pride and joy and biggest baby (son), William Thomas Cates.  She is also survived by her sister, Karen, and brothers, Tommy and Steve, as well as their spouses and children.  
A formal funeral service will be held at the Houston National Cemetery (10410 Veterans Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas 77038) on Friday, August 4th, 2017 at 11:30 AM. Please arrive promptly at 11:20 AM as Houston National Cemetery is very strict on start and end times for services.  We will all be lined up in LANE 1 where we will proceed in a timely fashion.  Following this, there will be a grand celebration of Linda’s life at the Watzek Family Pavilion (26380 Magnolia Road, Hockley, Texas 77447) beginning at 5:00 PM.  In the spirit of Linda, please wear what makes you happy! Bright colors, comfortable clothing, confetti, and/or glitter are encouraged.  Shoes are optional!  RSVP appreciated, but not required ( or Linda Cates' Celebration of Life Facebook Event).

A fund has also been set up through the Peggy Wilson Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization (a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, TAX ID 76-0375392) to help sustain and grow the school’s garden which Linda and Billy started in 2012.  The garden serves to educate students about plant growth and biology, nature, sustainability, and life.  The goal is to rename the garden "Linda's Garden" so that her legacy will live on!  Please make checks payable to “Peggy Wilson Elementary PTO” and put “Linda’s Garden” in the memo.  Because the elementary school is closed for the summer, please mail all checks to Linda’s daughter, Mary Watzek, 13914 Twisting Ivy Lane, Cypress, TX 77429.  She will ensure all funds are hand received by the PTO treasurer.


Charitable Donations may be made to:

Peggy Wilson Elementary - PTO (Memo: Linda's Garden) c/o Mary Watzek
13914 Twisting Ivy Lane, Cypress, Texas, , 77429. Website Link

Sign Guestbook

The World has lost someone very special! My deepest sympathy to the entire family!

Carrie Hendrix

Linda was truly one of a kind. I bet she entered heaven with her signature, "Peace and Love." Everyone knew who had entered. ?

Penny Faucette