My friend from graduate school Kristen forwarded this email to me today at 11:
Our friend and colleague Richard Patteson has passed away.
Jack White and Carlene are at Richard’s house now; they found him slumped over his desk. The coroner is on the way, but we do know that his cancer had metastasized and that he had been receiving radiation treatments.
At this point, I know nothing about funeral/memorial arrangements. Please know that I will keep you informed. In the meantime, I know that you will keep Richard in your thoughts and prayers.
I didn’t see it until I got back from my disaster training in Tupelo early this evening.
Patteson was a friend. He’s the one who told me I should consider graduate school. I was 19. I had to ask him what it was. I cannot imagine life without having gotten my master’s degree. It was such a defining period where I learned so much about myself and the world. Thus far, it has been the best time of my life. He was a large part of that. I have photos from one of the graduate seminars we had at his house, all of us smiling with him in the middle.
Daniel had taken his scifi class. He thought a lot of D, and that meant a lot to me. It’s not easy being an English major who marries a scientist.
I did a Directed Individual Study with him and worked to develop a paper on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera for submission to publication. I wasn’t even an English graduate student at the time. I had graduated, but I needed some credit hours to receive an assistantship in foreign languages, and I needed the help to turn a shorter paper into credible research article. Then I was very much focused on attaining my PhD so I could be like him and my other professors.
Actually it was my introduction to Marquez by him that inspired me to learn Spanish. Without his influence, I would have never spent a month in Spain. Would have never befriended Miguel in Mexico this April. I would not be the me you know today.
He was one of my recommendation writers and one of my job references.
He was there long after I graduated, when many of my former English dept friends were not. I remember him whispering to me at my engagement party that he and I were the best dressed people there.
I emailed him in May and he responded. He didn’t mention his health was fading though I knew he had cancer. I did not know it was getting worse instead of better.
I already miss him.