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first_imgPROFILE OF EVANSVILLE BUSINESSMAN DENNIS GATESSuccessful Evansville business man, Dennis Gates, says the idea for the creation of the Jack Henry Gates Memorial Community Laundromat, “ must have been a God thing.” He tells us that he was simply doing what he frequently does as a contractor and real estate developer, driving around looking for available property with potential when he spied the small building on Columbia Street, just west of Governor Street.After looking at the property and realizing it had been used as a laundromat, he made an offer on it. After the offer was accepted, Dennis decided that the laundromat was too small to make a profit. That is when the door opened to idea of making it a non-profit to benefit the less fortunate of the city came to him. He ran the idea past his wife, Shelley, she at first thought he was out of his mind. When she saw that he was serious about giving back to the community that had been so kind to them, Mrs. Gates was immediately “on board”the idea. Her husband credits her support with making fulfillment of his idea happen. It took about a year to do the repairs to the building and machines, and meet the requirements of the City to open. He said he had to provide more paved parking than was available, so he had to buy and raze the house next door and then pave the vacant lot. Overall, though, Mr. Gates tells us that he felt the City was very cooperative in getting the facility open in November of this year.The impact of the new non-profit laundromat has already been felt in the community. The first plan was for churches and community organizations to distribute tokens for use at the laundromat, but it soon became obvious that people were coming directly to the laundromat, so now tokens are available on site, too. The tokens are given in packages of five and ten, and only one token is needed per load of laundry. Dennis stops by for a short time a couple of times a day, and he told us that it is not unusual for men to come in and strip down to a pair of basketball shorts before washing. He also told us of a couple who showed up before opening one morning with several shopping carts of clothes. He said the woman told him how glad she is to have clean clothes now, because she feels so much better about herself when she does.The name of the Jack Henry Gates Memorial Community Laundromat came about when Dennis discussed the idea of honoring his late father with his brother and mother. They settled on the name together and take great pleasure in remembering him in this way.Dennis tells us that the family moved to Evansville from St. Louis when he was in third grade. The family settled in a house on Adams Ave. and he attended Stanley Hall and Bosse. His father was proprietor of American Pallet, and his mother also worked in the business. At age 21, in 1977, Dennis began his construction business. Over the years, he has also established a plumbing business and ACE roofing. His wife, Shelley, has been a nurse practitioner for 17 years. There are three Gates’ sons, ages30, 19, and 9. The eldest son has recently left the military and is settling with his family in the Washington, DC area, where he will be working in a military related job. The 19 year old is a student at UK, with future plans to become an attorney. The youngest is a fourth-grader who aspires to play for the Cardinals.FOOTNOTE:  The of “Profile Of Successful Evansville Business” people is going to be a weekly series by the City County Observer so we can introduce you to people you should know.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

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