Harold Lloyd "Pat" Patterson
Harold Lloyd "Pat" Patterson, beloved father and grandfather passed away Sunday, July 26, 2009 in Irving, TX., surrounded by his children and several grandchildren.
He was born on March 1, 1924 in Cherokee City, AR. to Claude & Margaret (Williams) Patterson. From 1943-46, Harold was a captain aboard the U.S. Navy's PB4Y-2 Privateer in the South Pacific, and achieved the rank of Aviation Machinist Mate-Second Class. He was honorably discharged in May 1946 and nine months later married Betty Jo Worthington, who would be his wife of 59 years until her death in January 2006.
Harold was a resident of Irving since 1964, a member of First Baptist Church, a veteran of the US Navy serving in World War II, and an avid baseball fan, especially of the Grand Prairie Air Hogs. Harold was a dedicated stamp collector like his father before him. He was also a supporter and frequent visitor of America's National Parks, especially his beloved Big Bend and Grand Canyon, and Texas State Parks. He loved the great outdoors and traveled frequently, including seven cruises to Alaska. The dearest thing to him was and always will be his family and his life's love, Betty. Harold also gave 37 years of his life to American Airlines where since the mid-1970's he was a Technical Training Supervisor at D-FW Airport, where he trained instructors how to teach commercial airplane mechanics.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Jo Patterson; mother, Margaret Aery; father, Claude Patterson, and brother, Carl Patterson. He is survived by his children, David Patterson and wife, Dell Anne, of Irving; Claudia Cox and husband, James, of Irving, and Jimmy Patterson and wife, Karen of Midland; 12 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren; two brothers, Don Chisum of Colorado Springs, CO., William F. Patterson of Reynoldsburg, OH., and one sister, Mary Lou Burgess of Tulsa, OK.
The family will receive friends for visitation on Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at Chapel of Roses Funeral Home, 1225 E. Irving Blvd. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 30, 2009, at First Baptist Church, 403 S. Main St., Irving, TX. 75060.
Interment will follow at D/FW National Cemetery at 1:30PM in Dallas, TX.
Rev. Wayne Watkins will officiate. Memorial contributions can be made to First Baptist Church-Irving Evergreen Program, the National Kidney Foundation or the Citizens' Development Center of Dallas.
Many of my memories as a young boy are of enjoying the game of baseball with my father. Learning the ins and outs, and ups and downs; enjoying the stories and the history, and being entertained by the sheer greatness of the game alongside my father.
Many of my questions in life come from the experiences dad had but never shared during his time as a captain in the U.S. Navy, stationed in the South Pacific during World War II.
Dad and I attended the very first Texas Ranger baseball game in 1972. I was a wide-eyed 12-year-old kid, he an appreciative man of 48 who was happy a Major League team had finally come to his hometown. We watched together in awe as Frank Howard, a huge man, homered to help the Rangers win that first game.
Ten years ago, I finally urged my dad into talking about his military service as I put together a commemorative newspaper front page for his 75th birthday. He spent the entire time talking about the good memories, the camaraderie, the trouble he and his fellow sailors would always just barely escape. He talked about the time a friend had stashed a motor scooter into his airplane's wheel well and the landing gear would hardly extract in time for touchdown. He spoke of dangling his feet out the bomb bay door and feeling the spray of the Pacific as the pilot skirted along just over the top of the water.
But he never talked about what he did in combat. Until the day he died, he never discussed the ugly part of war but you could see in his eyes through his non-answers that what he had been forced to do in the war still deeply troubled him. Dad, until the day he died Sunday, had a deep respect for human life, and a powerful disdain for war and all its horrors.
He was awarded the silver star for his bravery in combat and he loved his country deeply and dearly. He was patriotic without being political. An American without need for any further labeling.
And, as I think I mentioned earlier, he loved his baseball. And he handed that love down to his children. He was, at one time early in life, the No. 1 hose man for the St. Louis Cardinals' farm team in Springfield, Mo., until a big, young Cardinal prospect showed up at the field and knocked him down to No. 2 hose man. That kid's name was Joe Garagiola. (When it became apparent baseball would not work as a career, Dad would later turn to airplanes, where he made his living teaching mechanics how to fix 747s and DC-10s and other large jets at DFW Airport. I was always impressed with how smart he had to be to do that.)
In the last two years of dad's life he developed a passion for a small independent league baseball team, the Grand Prairie Air Hogs. My brother purchased season tickets so my dad could go watch the team as often as he wanted. They played maybe three or four miles from his home in south Irving. The Air Hogs are a team without the huge crowds that he didn't like fighting at Ranger games, and it was a team without the unnecessary side shows and sordid soap operas so often inherent with Major League teams. It was just baseball stripped down, and dad's love for the Air Hogs spread through the entire family. It was almost as if they had formed just for my dad's enjoyment in the last years of his life.
I write all of this to set the stage for what was my dad's last few minutes. He died Sunday afternoon at 3:25 at Hearthstone Hospice in Irving.
He was surrounded by a dozen of his children and grandchildren as everyone joined together and formed a circle of love and life. Standing in the midst of the death of a loved one is an indescribably powerful experience, and one of the most difficult things I have ever been a part of. But also very necessary.
Dad spent his final two days in a private hospice room. A common area for the family was just outside that room. In that common area was a television mounted on a wall. For much of his final two days, the TV mercifully remained off. On the afternoon of his death someone had turned it on but left the volume down.
As his family circled around him and it became apparent dad was in his final few moments, the sound of singing could be heard. My niece looked at me, then at others, as we tried to figure out what it was that had broken the sacred silence, and why all of a sudden the TV had been turned up. No one could explain. Soon enough, it became apparent to everyone who huddled around my dad that the song that was filling the room -- and coming from the television in the family room -- was "God Bless America" being performed during the seventh inning stretch of the Rangers game Sunday afternoon.
As the song's final notes drifted away and the song ended, dad took one last deep breath, closed his eyes and was gone.