Richard W. Patton '54
Deceased December 10, 2013
Dick Patton passed away Dec. 10, 2013, at his home in Pasadena, Calif. I had talked with him three days earlier, and one would never have known that he was fighting lung cancer.
Dick was the fourth generation to attend Amherst. He pledged DU where he and I along with Stew VerNooy '54 became roommates. During our senior year we both took the same history course. Much to my chagrin, Dick was asked by the professor to help grade the exam. I got a fairly good grade which Dick, many times since, has let me know was due to his liberal grading of my paper. He was quite dedicated to the college and was president for several years of the Amherst Association of Southern California and also served on its board.
Dick liked people and made a concerted effort to keep in touch with his close friends. I could expect a call from him if we hadn't talked in several months, and we tried to get together when he came east on many of his business trips. On one of his trips, my date got Dick a blind date. That is how I met my wife, Nancy, and we will celebrate 55 years together this September. Dick and I attended Stew VerNooy's wedding in Philadelphia. Stew had gotten his medical degree and had an air force commitment to fulfill and was heading west to his new post. Since Dick was going to Chicago, he went along with Stew and his bride on their honeymoon. When we graduated in 1954, we all had a military commitment to fulfill. Dick joined the U.S. Marine Corps and spent three years in uniform. He told me recently that he enjoyed his military service and at one time was seriously considering making it a career. Instead he became a banker and head of National Mortgage Investors while also serving on the Board of Directors of the Pasadena Federal Savings and Loan. Dick was an avid skier and was president of the Pasadena Ski club when he met Lynda, also a skier. What better place for two skiers to get married than Sun Valley, Idaho. They subsequently bought a ski house on Mammoth Mountain, about 5 hours away from their home in Pasadena.
Lynda and Dick have a son Robert who is in the residential real estate remodeling business. About six months before his passing, Dick's first grandchild, a girl, was born. He was so pleased to have another generation of Pattons started. He and Lynda traveled extensively. He once told me he had visited 99 different countries, some of which I didn't know existed. Dick lived a full life and was dedicated to his family and friends and extremely proud of his Amherst heritage.
Dave Tapley '54
Married Lynda Kruse (Patton) February 1971 in Sun Valley, Idaho. One child Robert, now age 29.
After leaving the USMC as a 1st 1ieutenant in May 1958 employed by Thermo Fax Sales Corp., Chicago as a sales engineer in business systems until January 1960. Joined National Mortgage Investors as an account executive. From 1960 to 1990 went thru various positions to President and CEO retiring as Vice Chairman. The company was a mortgage banker and nationwide mortgage broker with corporate clients in 45 states. Also on the boards of a number of companies both public and private. From 1990 to 2000 was self-employed as a nationwide mortgage broker. Currently retired. Over the years was on the board and or president of a number of non-profit organizations, ranging from American Savings & Loan Institute to Kronenstatdt Ski Club.
Spent much time and still do on the ski slopes and travel (83 countries). Many bare board charters in France cruising its river and canals.
God willing the future will allow me to keep very active in sports and travel and that my good life will continue. Unfortunately the so-called golden years are made of fools gold and the future does not seem as promising as the good old days were (1950 to 1965). Perhaps one day son Rob will find a wife and grand children will be part of the future.
Since I am currently a consultant that no one wants to consult with, it is a certainty that our new President Tony Marx has no interest in any sage advice other than good luck and have a great tenure as President of The Fairest College. So instead of advice and dredging up ghosts of the past, here are a few random thoughts that from time to time return and run through my mind:
When we are young friends are much easier to come by. We are more open of mind and are able to brush off people hurts and to forgive and forget. As we grow older we have to work harder to make friends and even harder to keep them. I hope that I have worked hard enough.
One day in mid-winter on a crystal clear sunny day I was skiing in a remote area where there was no one on that part of the mountain but God and me. Across the valley the spires of the Minarets sparkled in all their glory and looked like fingers reaching towards the sky. What a priceless moment that was. I hope there will be more moments like that.
I used to be pretty good with words. Many times over these past years I have had imaginary conversations with my son. They were about things I could never find words for when we were face to face. Usually when I tried these words came out all wrong. I hope my son some day will understand that I tried very hard in my heart.
While at the helm the boat slowly works its way down the canal cruising leisurely through the verdant fields in a distant province in France. Carcassone lies a few hours down the Midi where a wonderful meal and good wine awaits. Cows graze in the pastures along the towpath, a fish breaks water to chase a fly and birds are sailing through the sky on what seems an endless journey. My mind is at peace and without a care in the world. I hope others have moments like this.
Life is like a bottle of wine. When first bottled it is green, raw, rough on the edges and very young. As it grown older it starts to smooth out and develops its own personality. Some wines have a great name and no character. Other wines have no pedigree but turn out to be wonderful. As a wine continues to mature it starts to lose vigor and hue. Like life itself it eventually fades away leaving only memories of what it was.
We had been hiking since mid-morning and had just finished our last switch back searching for Cabin Lake in the high Sierras. We were tired and longed to find a place to drop our backpacks. We came upon a tiny unnamed lake that showed on our topo map. It was located in a small green mountain meadow whose most frequent visitors were the local deer. We set camp and then climbed to a rocky ledge to watch the sun go down over the mountains. We sat and leaned against the rocks still warmed by the afternoon sun. God again bad painted a masterpiece on the horizon. We did not talk much. The sunset said it all.