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5 6 T welve years ago, Steve Tate became “The Mayor.” This month he’ll relinquish his seat on Morgan Hill’s City Council to his successor, Rich Constantine. After being elected six times to serve as mayor, he’s leaving big shoes to fill and is ready to start a new chapter in life. Steve is a rarity in modern politics: his legacy as a city and community leader is built on respect and responsibility. Some folks will always think of him as Mayor Tate, others will be angling to get him on their boards. His family is hoping for a little more face time. Friends are wondering what he’ll do with his new- found free time. According to Jennifer Tate, Steve’s wife of fifty-two years and a community leader in her own right, “I’ve learned over the years that just when I think I have him all figured out, he does the unexpected.” Early Days Steve was born in 1944 in Berkeley, California. His father was a Naval Ar- chitect who designed ships for Mattson. Work kept his father on the road a lot, so much of the parenting of Steve and his older brother Robert fell to his mother. Despite his impressive history of leadership, Steve candidly admits his life didn’t start out that way. “I was about as far from being a leader as anyone could be during high school,” Steve said. “I’d skip class to play pool at the bowling alley. I started my junior year with a D-plus average. Thankfully I had teachers who believed in me and turned me around during those last two years. One teacher went to UC Berkeley to argue my case and I got in.” Steve’s father passed away during his sophomore year of college. “He didn’t have a penny of savings, so I worked my way through school, at the bowling alley, doing computer programming jobs, and hashing at a sorority.” Steve Meets Jennifer The Tates met at UC Berkeley, but neither of them remembers exactly where or when. “Jennifer’s brother and I had started playing bridge in the same group,” Steve said. “One day she joined us, and we hit it off, then started dating.” “When people ask, we like to joke that we’ve just always known each other,” Jennifer said. Armed with a BS degree in Mathematics, Steve began looking for a job. Jennifer’s father worked at IBM and suggested that Steve apply there. He was hired and offered a choice of jobs and locations, including a position in Alaska. “When I told Jennifer about the possibility of working in Alaska, she said, ‘Sure, go ahead Steve, but I’m staying here!’ So I wisely took a sales engineer position in Sacramento, and GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN december 2018-january 2019 that worked out very well.” The Tates were married in 1966 at St. Mary’s Church in Los Gatos— a tribute to family tradition. “We were married by the same priest who married my parents and who baptized my sister, my brother and me,” Jennifer said. 38 Years at Big Blue Looking back on his IBM career, Steve said, “It was like a big family. IBM worked to keep employees and promote them. Today, people have to change companies to get ahead in t heir careers.” “I liked working as an SE, a sales engineer. Customers called the SE’s because they knew we kept the sales reps honest.” Steve worked in IBM’s fast-growing storage division covering the entire northwestern U.S. By that time, he and Jennifer had two children and were living in Walnut Creek. After three years of heavy travel, Steve wanted a break. He became a product planner in IBM’s San Jose plant, was eventually promoted into department management, and then spent a year on assignment to Rolm in Santa Clara before returning to San Jose to devote the rest of his “Big Blue” career to software planning. He and Jennifer moved to Morgan Hill in 1977, and while they loved the area, it was the City’s struggles with the impacts of growth that sparked Steve’s interest in the public sector. 47