PULLMAN, Wash. — Longtime Washington State University alumni director and state legislator Eugene G. “Pat” Patterson died Sunday, Feb. 15, at the Avalon Care Center in Pullman following complications with diabetes. He was 84. A vigil service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 20, at Sacred Hearth Catholic Church, Pullman.
During 26 years (1952-1978) as director of alumni relations, he was credited for his visionary leadership and for establishing the WSU Scholarship and Development Fund, which raised more than $12 million in endowed, capital and annual gifts during his tenure. He also played a major role in launching a successful campaign that generated more than $1 million to enlarge the football stadium on campus. Construction was completed for the 1972 season.
The Pullman native enrolled at WSU with the class of 1941, but World War II interrupted his education. During five years as an Army officer, he served with distinction in the South Pacific theatre, including the battles of Guadalcanal and New Georgia, where he was wounded. His military medals include a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. After the war, he returned to WSU and earned a political science degree in 1946. He was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and later, chapter adviser. He moved to Seattle for six year to become executive secretary and lobbyist for the State Veterans of Foreign Wars organization.
During his tenure as alumni director, he also was responsible for maintaining graduate records. As district chairman of the American Alumni Council, he took the lead in merging the AAC with the American College Public Relations Association to form CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education).
During 20 years as a state legislator, Patterson put countless miles on his cars driving between Pullman and Olympia for sessions. The 9th District Republican was elected to the House in 1972. He served four two-year terms there, followed by four three-year terms in the Senate.
When he first joined the Legislature one of his responsibilities was to serve the WSU as a legislative consultant during sessions. Dr. (President C. Clement) French once said he considered Patterson as “my eyes and ears in Olympia.”
He was a strong voice for eastern Washington higher education and agriculture. He served as minority whip in the House, and held Republican leadership positions and served on several committees, including higher education, transportation, judiciary, local government and constitution before retiring from the Senate in 1992.
Patterson was a member of the WSU Athletic Council and was a part-time varsity golf coach for a number of years beginning in 1966 in addition to alumni duties. He received a WSU Alumni Achievement Award in 1978 and the CASE District VIII Distinguished Service Award for 1983-84.
The youngest of Mattie and David Mitchell Patterson’s six children was born Oct. 8, 1919 in a house that still stands on Bryant Street in Pullman. He and his wife of 63 years, Maxine Weeks (’46 Fine Arts), met as Pullman High School as sophomores and were married Aug. 31, 1940, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. They had seven children—Alan of Wenatchee; Michael, Lake Wenatchee; Linda, Pullman; David, Tacoma; Sarah Hamilton, Pullman; Margaret Dunn, Salem, Ore., and Jim, Seattle. All but one attended or graduated from WSU. The Pattersons also have seven grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
Memorial gifts may be made in Patterson’s name, care of the WSU Foundation, P.O. Box 641925, Pullman, WA 99164-1925.