Maurice Lee (Pat) Patterson, 94, educator, author and editor of books on local and family history and who spearheaded projects of area historic preservation died Friday, February 18, 2005 of heart failure at his home in Interlaken, New York. Mr. Patterson’s books have been purchased by genealogical libraries across the country: Between the Lakes: A History of South Seneca County (in its 3rd printing), The Covert Family, (700 pages, editor and co-compiler), Pioneers of Quarry Hill, Interlaken Reformed Church 1830-1980 and The Reed Family. Mr. Patterson served as president of the Interlaken Historical Society for 20 years and as Trustee of the Interlaken Library for 30 years, serving as president from 1960-81. He applied for grants to move the Nivison Grain Cradle Factory to Main Street, Interlaken and to display the many donations of old farm tools to this new Farmers’ Museum so that local history and the area’s farming heritage could be preserved. During Mr. Patterson’s presidencies, he was instrumental in producing local history documentaries in the form of videos on architecture in South Seneca County, Native Americans in NYS and the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition. He coordinated his publications with his service as Historian of the Village of Interlaken and Town of Covert. In 1927, as a teenager, Mr. Patterson had the opportunity to meet a Confederate Veteran in Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia. The old man did not want to talk with a Yankee boy, but Pat told him if General Robert E. Lee had agreed to lead the Northern troops, the Civil War would have lasted only four months. The old veteran vehemently agreed and proceeded to share his memories of battles with Pat. Thus began a life-long love of history.
On a regional scale he was an active member of the Regional Conference of Historical Agencies Executive committee and served as president for two years. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Finger Lakes Library System, as vice-president of the South Central Research Library Council and on the General Program Council of the Reformed Church of America. Other civic activities and memberships included service on the Seneca County Health Association, the Interlaken Firemen’s Association, Sons of the American Revolution, Elder and Deacon in the Interlaken Reformed Church, chairman of the Seneca County Bicentennial Committee, and Past Master in the Farmerville-Union Masonic Lodge #183.
Mr. Patterson, born in Wurtsboro, NY, October 28, 1910, was one of five children born to Horace Lee and Laura Reed Patterson. He graduated from Otisville High School and two years later matriculated at Alfred University, graduating in 1934. He was always grateful to a supervisor at General Electric for encouraging him to consider going to college. Mr. Patterson earned a Masters in Education from Cornell University in 1939.
Mr. Patterson was a popular math and science teacher, who infused his teaching with humor. Teaching was one of Mr. Patterson’s most rewarding life experiences. In fact, just two years ago, a science student who Pat had taught 40 years before, dropped by his house; the man told him that he attributed his successful career as an engineer to Mr. Patterson because Mr. Patterson had told the student that he had the ability to pass physics and he would help him do so. He served as vice-principal of Interlaken Central School from 1936-61 and then became District Principal from 1961-68, followed by two years as Superintendent of Schools of the newly formed South Seneca Central School. Pat retired in 1970. His retirement lasted two weeks when he was hired to serve as Director of the Computer Center, Board of Cooperative Education Services in Ithaca.
As an educator, he availed himself of travel opportunities to gain insight into education in other countries. During the East-West Cold War, the government in the U.S.S.R. invited U.S. educators to tour schools in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Dubrovnik. Pat was a participant.
For his work in pioneering local efforts in historic preservation and education, Mr. Patterson received the Award of Merit of the Regional Council of Historical Agencies in recognition of “Long and Distinguished Service in Local Historical Work in New York State,” the Ruth Polson Public Service Award in appreciation of work as president of the Finger Lakes Library System, and the Alfred University Alumni Career Citation. In addition, his biography was published in Who’s Who in the East, 24th edition in recognition of “outstanding achievement in [his] field and [having] contributed significantly to the betterment of society.” The Interlaken Library genealogical reference room is named in his honor.
Mr. Patterson was married for 64 years to Ferne Kitson Patterson. He is also survived by two daughters, Muriel Patterson Huttenbach of Atlanta, Georgia and Janet Patterson Vavasour of Scotia, New York, and a son, Reed K. Patterson of Addison, New York. Other survivors include grandchildren William (Pat) Huttenbach, Eric Huttenbach, Marisa Lee Huttenbach, Laura Lee Huttenbach, of Houston, TX, Carrollton, GA, and Atlanta, GA, respectively, Daniel Vavasour and Kerry Beck of Austin, TX and Fredericksburg, VA respectively and Cristianne French of Penfield, NY. Great-grandchildren include Steven Huttenbach, Cole and Page Vavasour and Connor, Chase and Carly Ann French. Several nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews also survive Mr. Patterson. In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by three brothers Lindon, Glenn and Donald Patterson and a sister, Lois Johnson.
Services will be held at the Interlaken Reformed Church, 8315 Main Street on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 at 11 a.m. The family will receive friends at the Ness-Sibley Funeral Home, 23 South Street, Trumansburg, Tuesday, February 22, 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to: The Interlaken Historical Society, P.O.Box 270, Interlaken, NY 14847 or the Interlaken Reformed Church, P.O. Box 335, Interlaken, NY 14847.
For additional information please contact the funeral home at 1-888-534-5446 or www.ness-sibley.com.