Wrote Saipan Tribune column even while in pain
Former Marianas Visitors Authority marketing manager and CNMI Zoning board member Bruce Bateman passed away last Thursday due to cancer at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in the Philippines. He was 72.
Bateman is survived by his wife, Olivia Reyes-Bateman, and their 16-year-old son, Alexander.
Bateman worked at MVA from October 2008 to September 2017. He also served for four years as a member of the CNMI Zoning Board. He wrote a regular column, Sour Grapes, for the Saipan Tribune.
MVA board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce was saddened to learn about Bateman’s passing. She said Bateman was MVA’s marketing manager for many years and that he worked really well with their overseas representative offices.
After his departure from MVA, Bateman attended almost all of their board meetings, Aldan-Pierce said, and that Bateman was so supportive of them and their programs, which she really appreciated.
“Our heartfelt sympathies go to his family,” she said.
Former Zoning board chair Diego Blanco said that Bateman was his vice chairman at the board. He extended his condolences to the family, and described Bateman as a “smart guy” who really cared for the CNMI.
Reyes-Bateman told Saipan Tribune yesterday that her husband was diagnosed with cancer in November 2018 and was undergoing treatment when he passed away. She found it even more painful for her and their son because they were stuck here on Saipan when Bateman died. It was her brother who was assisting Bateman at St. Luke’s at the time as she is on Saipan.
She said Bateman heard her voice during his last moments because she had instructed the doctor to put the cellphone next to his ear. “After I spoke to Bruce, I heard a long beeping sound of the machine, then the doctor told me he was gone,” she said.
Reyes-Bateman said her husband left instructions in a will to have his body cremated. When everything is back to normal and safe to travel from COVID-19 without being quarantined, she and their son will go to the Philippines to bury his ashes.
“The memories will be remembered and cherished for the rest of my life. I will miss Bruce so much,” she said.
Bateman’s ashes are currently in an urn that is being kept at Reyes-Bateman family’s house in Taytay, Rizal, Philippines.
She described Bateman as a very supportive father, and spent a lot of time with their son, Alexander, as both shared the same hobbies—swimming, biking, hiking, and others. She said Bateman was involved in their son’s school activities, PTA meetings, and regularly communicates with his principals and teachers.
“Alexander will surely miss his Dad,” she said. “I wish we could have spent more time together.”
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Bateman had his own businesses in the U.S. mainland. In 1997, Bateman first arrived on Saipan and met Olivia, when he came to assist in the sales and marketing of a company where she worked. Since then, Bateman would regularly come to Saipan for a couple of years until July 2004, when he decided to stay on the island for good.
Bateman and Olivia got married at the Stars & Stripes Dinner Cruise on June 10, 2005, officiated by then-governor Juan N. Babauta. It was a double celebration as it was their son’s first birthday.
The couple opened a small business, then Bateman started writing his column, Sour Grapes, with Saipan Tribune.
Reyes-Bateman is thankful to Saipan Tribune, saying that writing the weekly column kept Bateman’s mind occupied and became therapeutic as well. She said she was with Bateman in Manila when he emailed Saipan Tribune editor Jayvee L. Vallejera to give him enough time to finish his column.
“He was really in debilitating pain but, because of his passion for writing and followers who were looking forward to reading his articles, he endured the pain and, in between breaks, he was able to complete his column,” Reyes-Bateman recalled.