Jim Durham, News Bureau Director
Rev. Dr. W. Morgan Patterson, the 22nd President of Georgetown College (1984-91), – after a brief illness – died a few minutes before midnight Friday (Nov. 19) at his home in Novato, CA. attended by his wife, Ernestine, and both of his sons.
Memorial services will be held at the Tiburon Baptist Church in Tiburon, CA, at 2 p.m., Sunday (Nov. 28). Burial will be at a nearby cemetery the following day with arrangements under the direction of Keaton’s Redwood Chapel of Marin, Novato. Among the tributes already to Dr. Patterson, a historian who taught at four Southern Baptist seminaries, is a story on the Associate Baptist Press website. Also, the Georgetown College flag will be flown at half mast through Wednesday in Patterson’s honor.
William H. Crouch, Jr., who succeeded Patterson as president in ’91, said, “Anyone who dedicates a portion of their life to leading an institution is a person with a servant heart. Morgan Patterson served Georgetown College and her students for eight years as president with dedication and passion. In 2001, the trustees named the important and historic Admissions facility in his honor as a symbol of gratitude for his leadership. His scholarship will be forever remembered at this place and we thank God for his time as our leader.”
During the Patterson administration, Georgetown College consistently increased its enrollment each year of his leadership, reached an endowment of more than $16 million (then a record), and saw the restoration and beautification of two antebellum buildings – Highbaugh Hall and Pawling Hall. Among other improvements and acquisitions, the purchase of 52 acres of farmland east of campus stands out.
“A lasting legacy many people don’t know was Dr. Patterson’s vision for the land that would become ‘East Campus’,” said Garvel Kindrick ’85, now the College’s VP of Enrollment – and a student representative on the incoming president’s inaugural committee back then. “Without that we couldn’t have handled the growth we’ve had under President Crouch – the 128 beds in the apartments, and Cincinnati Bengals training camp.”
Patterson also leaves quite a legacy at Campbellsville University where he had served as Scholar in Residence since 2000. Dr. Frank Cheatham, that Baptist institution’s vice president for academic affairs, said, “His knowledge and experience provided an extra dimension for our students. I was looking forward to his return in the spring.”
Campbellsville’s president, Dr. Michael V. Carter, added, “Dr. Patterson was a brilliant scholar and Baptist historian and an accomplished higher education leader. We were very saddened to learn of his death and extend our heartfelt sympathy to Mrs. Ernestine Patterson and family. The Campbellsville University family has been greatly enriched as a result of Dr. Patterson’s service for a number of years as a visiting scholar. We will miss him tremendously.”
Jo Griffith, the former administrative assistant to Patterson and three other Georgetown presidents, said by telephone, “President Patterson was quite a gentleman and a scholar…a great academician. Retired now in Elizabethtown, she added, “He was also a great person to work for.”
Georgetown graduate Marsha Oakes Eden ’87, an SGA Speaker of the House during college and now of Lexington, recalled “Dr. Patterson was a great listener and always made the students feel very comfortable when speaking with him.”
In 1992, Patterson received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Stetson University, and in 1993 he was given the Distinguished Service Award for contributions to Baptist history by the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Official obituary for W. Morgan Patterson
(October 1, 1925 / November 19, 2010)
Rev. Dr. Patterson, a native of New Orleans, LA was born to E Palmer Patterson and Jess Margaret Patterson on Oct. 1, 1925.. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ernestine N Patterson of Longwood, FL, two sons, W Morgan Patterson II and Jay N Patterson, and four grandchildren, Nolan, Jessica, Grace and Abigail.
After high school, he served as a flight officer in the US Army Air Corp. Upon discharge after WWII, he entered the Christian ministry. He completed his undergraduate work at Stetson University, Deland FL. He continued his education at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and post graduate study at Oxford University, England. Dr. Patterson taught church history and related subjects at four theological seminaries in Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and most recently at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, CA. He ended his career as the 22nd President of Georgetown College in Kentucky (1984 – 1991). After retirement, he continued teaching at the seminaries and at four colleges and universities; Louisiana Baptist College, Baptist College of Florida, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Campbellsville University in Kentucky. As an Assistant to the President, Dr Patterson represented the College of the Ozarks for the western United States.
Representatives of schools where he served will join family and friends at the Memorial Service to be held at Tiburon Baptist Church, 445 Greenwood Beach Road, Tiburon, on November 28, 2010 at 2 p.m.
Dr Patterson has donated his extensive library collection of church history and related material to the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 201 Seminary Drive, Mill Valley, CA 94941. Donations may be made to GGBTS / W Morgan Patterson Collection in lieu of flowers.
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to all those who were supportive during his recent illness.