Earl “Booty” Pate died Monday, Aug. 9, 2010 at home. He was born Oct. 12, 1948, the son of the late Earl and Lois Pate. He graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Master’s Degree in Accounting.
Earl Howard “Booty” Pate, III, founder and owner of the famous night attraction, Crackers, is remembered as a legend in the disco dancehalls. It all began in the year 1978 when Booty opened the doors to what would be the longest surviving dance attraction on the southeast coast. The business operated for 14 years until it closed in the year 1992. Each night Crackers closed with “The Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time” or most famously “Last Dance”, by Donna Summer. Some of the bands and famous singing artist that played were: Mother’s Finest, Hank Williams, Jr., Percy Sledge, Four Tops, Lee Greenwood, Nantucket, Wet Willie, Dr. Hook, Earl Thomas Conely, David Allen Coe, and many others. In fact, Nantucket will perform at the Cole Plaza for Thunder Fest on October 7, 2010. The band said they would only play if Booty Pate sat on the front row. Booty was well known for his ability to organize great concerts and live attractions with contacts over all the country. For a short period “Crackers in the Pines” was opened in Southern Pines but closed shortly after determining it pulled Booty’s customers from the original Crackers in Rockingham. Booty had many friends that patronized his business over the years; you can usually run into someone that has been there everywhere you travel. Once they find out you are from Rockingham, they immediately ask, “Did you ever go to a place called CRACKERS?” Teenagers and well as young adults enjoyed a night out at Crackers in a safe environment dancing the shag, disco, etc. to famous music. It was once said that the reason for the long running life of Crackers was due to its owners. Booty and Trudy respected their customers, carried the heavy burden of caring for each and everyone of your children while they were out on the town, made it their responsibility to see that each and everyone of them made it home safely, and taught them a few of life’s valuable lessons along the way. The customers respected Booty and Trudy, a key ingredient to sure success for any business. Even when “Booty” was dealing with Wegener’s disease, he maintained his kind hearted attitude and would always compliment or say a kind word to you.
Even though he could not attend his HHS-Class of 1966 reunion, he highly commended those that organized it. Booty will be missed, but the memories from all those years of “Crackers” will be shared for a long time among his many friends….and now he is in heaven, ordering the DJ to play the song that will always be associated with “closing time” at CRACKERS, “Last Dance” by Donna Summer. It might be “closing time” for Booty’s life here on Earth, but you can believe the party is just beginning in Heaven.
Surviving are his wife, Trudy; one daughter, Shannon Pate of Rockingham; one son, Earl H. Pate IV and his wife, Toni of Fayetteville; a sister, Debra Pate of Hamlet; and one brother, Richard “Ricky” Pate of Rockingham.
Memorials may be made to the First Presbyterian Church, 904 Fayetteville Road, Rockingham, NC 28379 or to Richmond County Hospice, 1119 N. US Hwy 1, Rockingham, NC 28379.
Online condolences may be made at www.watson-kingfuneralhome.com. Watson-King Funeral Home of Hamlet is serving the family.