According to an obituary in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Yates, who held the position from 1962 to 1965, helped recruit Robert Shaw to be the orchestra's music director. Shaw remained with the ASO for 21 years, and left a considerable artistic legacy.
In 1973, at the request of then-mayor Ivan Allen, Yates took up the head of the Atlanta Arts Alliance, which later became the Woodruff Arts Center. During his ten-year tenure there, the organization's budget went from $3.8 million to $16.3 million.
Yates was also a keen golfer and won a number of amateur championships in the U.K. and the U.S.