Donald S. Patterson

Nov 1917 - Jul 2012

Don, US Army, 2nd Lt

This is my father, Donald S. Patterson, born November 3, 1917, in a log cabin on the Current River in Shannon County. Rector was the closest post office; Eminence was (still is) the county seat. The swine flu epidemic was ruinous for the family farm, forcing a move, so they moved to Salem in 1921; only the first of many moves before Don finished school. From Salem they moved to St. Louis, where Don attended Marquette School for only 3 months of his first grade year. His father, Ed, looked for work in Chicago for 3 months, but he and Maude ended up divorcing in St. Louis. Don had his last 2 months of first grade back in Salem. He lived there with his mother and older brother Vernon and sister Velma from 1923 to 1927. The family was back together for a year and a half in St. Louis; Velma was back from Chicago, Vernon was home, Ed was there. Then Maude moved back to Salem without Ed. She and Don lived in Cape Girardeau for almost two years from 1932. In September 1933 they moved to N. Grand Ave. in St. Louis, where Don attended Beaumont High School. There were three or four more moves around town before Don was graduated from Beaumont: Bonita Park (Overland), around 1935 to Lexington Ave. where their neighbors were the Leschinsky's (a 4-family flat), and later Farland Ave. He didn't report all his changes of residence so that he wouldn't have to keep changing schools. Then Maude moved to Highland Ave. in Wellston. While she visited Vernon in California, Don took a room on West Pine. After a neighbor, Mabel Leschinsky, heard Don singing in the shower, she convinced him to come sing at Giddings-Boyle Presbyterian church where she was choir director. He went, and then joined in 1935. He hadn't started out Presbyterian; he had an old-fashioned Baptist baptism in the river as a child! He very much enjoyed the choir at Giddings-Boyle (a beautiful stone structure), made good lifelong friends, and best of all, met his future wife. They married July 15, 1939, driving across the state to be married at the home of Dr. Wright, the minister who had meant so much to them and the other youth of the church. They honeymooned in the Wisconsin Dells.

Don had started working at a food brokerage, as an office boy, while in high school, doing his homework as he rode the streetcars, and then went to work full time. A good student, who enjoyed Latin, French, history and math, he would love to have gone to college, but hadn't the means.

Don enlisted in the US Army in WWII, not waiting to be drafted, so that he could take the exam for officer's training. His three months of basic training were at Camp Robb, CA, and then officer training was at Fort Sill, OK. Don was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on 1 Apr 1943. When he was sent back to Camp Robb for field artillery training, Geneva quit her job and joined him in California. When Don shipped out to Hawaii, it was on such short notice that he couldn't tell her: she went to meet him one day and found him gone. (Their friends on the Monterrey Peninsula, Betty and Stan Prior, encouraged her to stay in California with them, but she returned to St. Louis and her job as a commercial artist at International Shoe.)

Don saw active duty in the Philippine Islands until the close of the war with the 164th Field Artillery, 40th Army Division. He was responsible for aiming the artillery, as he was sharp with calculations. Don had a good relationship with his superior office, Norman Spencer, who appreciated Don's skills too much to let him do anything foolish in idle time. When Japan surrendered, Don wasn't sent home; he served three more months with the Army of Occupation in Korea, disarming the Japanese and sending them home. He made it back to St. Louis just in time for Christmas with Geneva. Don was quite ready to leave the army behind when the was was over, did not participate in any reunions or keep in touch with his unit, aside from Norm, who visited Don at Hilton Head and presented him with a copy of his write-up of their war experiences.

His employers, Paskal-Morris Co., wanted Don to start back to work immediately after the holidays, but he said, "No way," and took three months' vacation with Geneva. Good friends (Cotton and Shirley Childress) loaned them their car and took the streetcars to work for all that time! They rented a cottage on the beach in Florida (Miami, pretty sure) and also went over to Cuba to enjoy Havana for a while.

Don studied music and voice at the St. Louis Institute of Music, and with his rich bass-baritone voice he was a much-appreciated soloist at the churches he joined: Giddings-Boyle Presbyterian, Friedens E&R; St. Andrew by the Sea (Hilton Head, 6 years), and then First Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island (16 years). He sang at many weddings and gave recitals around St. Louis.

Hawaii, May 23, 1974 Don's years as an officer in WWII boosted his confidence, which helped him succeed in his job. Around 1959, he became a 1/4 parter of the firm. Then in 1967 or 1968, Don and partner Joe Bene split off from the Paskal-Morris brokerage to found the Bene-Patterson Food Brokerage. He was a member of the Allied Food Club and President in 1970-1971.

He and Geneva enjoyed many business-related trips, were they annual food brokerage conventions - often held in New York City, where they always stayed at the Americana; or award trips for sales performance. And there were purely personal vacations every year, too, as Don and G both enjoyed travel (G especially!). Don put together a list of their travels which has been incorporated into the timeline on G's site. Business trips were always as two couples, the firm's partners. On the right is a photo of Don and Geneva in Hawaii, May 1974, with his first partner, Joseph Bene, as well as Ray Hootman, the younger partner who stepped in when Joe retired.

When Don retired in January 1980, he and Geneva moved to the home in Sea Pines, Hilton Head, that they had purchased in 1973. Don was a good boss, always a peacemaker, always treating people more than fairly, and with a good sense of humor, so he was much loved by his employees.

An avid bridge player, he and Geneva both became Bronze life masters in duplicate bridge in January 1987, and continued advancing over the next two decades as they traveled to tournaments. Don also very much enjoyed golf, his long drives being memorable.

You can see and hear Don sing on YouTube where I uploaded a recording of his singing a favorite church anthem, "The Holy City". And that was when he was about 78 ... sure wish you could all have heard him live when in his 50s. Some of the tracks on this page are from that era, sadly not recorded well, but this is what we have, and we treasure his voice.

Don as US Army 2nd Lieutenant in WWII Don stationed in the Pacific in WWII

In his own words : Don's service in World War II

164th Field Artillery, 40th Division

I joined the 164th in Guadacanal January 1944 and participated in the Luzon invasion (in the Phillipines) Jan. 6. We advanced to Clark Field and then were relieved by the First Cavalary Division. After the Luzon landing in January '45, we were sent to Leyte in late March for mopping up the remaining Japanese and we were the supporting artillery for the 108th Infantry.

On May 8th we landed on Mindanao and worked south for about a month until we met up with the 31st Division who had started from the south end.

In late June we were sent to Panay to train for the Invasion of Japan which was to be on October 31, 3 days before the main attack on the north side of Kyusho and then we were to be relieved and sent home, if we survived. Thanks to President Truman's decision on the atomic bomb I was able to stay alive and come home.

We were then sent to Pusan, Korea to take over and send all the Japanese home and turn the country back to the people and their own Government in early September.

On November 21st we left on a ship home from Seoul and December 14th we arrived in Tacoma and stayed at Fort Lewis until trains were arranged and I returned to St. Louis, Missouri, December 22, 1945.

I was a First Lieutenant and Survey Officer for the 164th and we never fired a short round in all our missions. We were a really good outfit and performed well in combat.

Rare photo of Don in student days, about 10 years old
Don and G on their wedding day 1939
Don and G on a wartime date from the generosity of his father Ed
Don and G on the beach on their long vacation after the war
Don and G postwar
Don on the right, with bosses Paskal and Morris
Office photo at Paskal-Morris Food Brokerage - Don of course is the tallest, at 6ft 2in
Don and G in Mexico City with business partner Joe Bene and wife Ruth
Don and G in Mexico City 1961
Don with son Ron outside Ron's house May 1980 after the funeral for Don's mother Maude
Don and G enjoying a cruise - looks like dinner on the Seine at Paris
Don and G at home in Hilton Head
Don and Geneva at home in Sea Pines after dinner out
Pat and Don, Christmas in Sea Pines
Don and G with the captain on one of the many cruises they enjoyed
Don and G enjoying a cruise
Don and G yes on yet another cruise
portrait for church directory
with Pat in Virginia, ca 2009

More about the Ozarks and Missouri's beautiful waters. Not an area Don cared to return to, but certainly one of natural beauty.

Current River, MO