Raymond John Patterson died in Meriden, CT on September 10th surrounded by his family. He was 87 years old. Predeceased by his wife Donna Lucile Davey Patterson, he is survived by their three children, Deborah Patterson of Meriden, CT, Bruce Patterson of New York, NY, and Mark Patterson, of Plano, TX, as well as 3 grandchildren, Leigh, Cole, and Alexandra Patterson, to all of whom he passed on his facility for impeccable grammar and impenitent humor. He also leaves behind two brothers, George Damroth of Wakefield, RI, and Mike Damroth of Chetek, WI, and their families.
Raymond was born in New Britain, CT on December 4, 1924 to Estelle and Raymond Norris Patterson. He grew up on Blue Hills Farm in Kensington, graduated from New Britain High School (where he was voted Best Dressed), and went on to be the youngest member of the New Britain Symphony as an accomplished violinist. An expert outdoorsman, Raymond made money as a trapper in his youth. He was an expert marksman, spear fisherman, and bow hunter. Later in life, he would admit to following his own hunting seasons, more dictated by the volume of game in the freezer than any published dates.
Enlisting in the US Marines at age 18, Raymond was deployed to the Pacific theater as an aerial photographer during WWII. Not satisfied with photographing Japanese installations from the air, and unconstrained by prior consultation with his superior officers, Raymond made his way to the front lines to fight alongside his Marine Corps brethren, and was subsequently wounded in battle.
After the war, Raymond met and in 1950 married Donna Davey, another veteran who had seen active duty in the Pacific and the gifted RN who nursed him back to health at Fort Miley Hospital in San Francisco. She was the love of his life.
Raymond and Donna built their first home in what would become Pacifica, CA, raising their children in an idyllic setting a block away from the Pacific Ocean and 10 miles away from San Francisco. Raymond spent his weekdays constructing the subdivisions that would come to define the footprint of California suburbs, and his weekends competing as a founding member of the legendary San Mateo County Sea Lions, Northern California’s first skin-diving club.
With his children grown and in college, Raymond began his second career in civil service as a facilities specialist across San Francisco Bay, first for the Navy on Treasure Island and then the Coast Guard at Alameda. At the same time, he took up sailing and marathons. While most of his peers were planning their retirement Raymond followed his Coast Guard work to Kodiak, Alaska in 1981 and then on to Delta Junction, Alaska, building everything from a child care center to a dam for the Army Corps of Engineers out of Fort Greeley, AK.
Raymond stayed on in Alaska to launch his third career as an entrepreneur after his retirement, owning and operating The Delta Fitness Center in Delta Junction and investing in local real estate projects. He regularly competed in marathons across the state, always finishing first in the Male 75-90 age category. Building on his early training in classical music, Raymond carried on a life-long love affair with popular music, and recorded an album of standards in 2005.
Declining health brought Raymond back to “The Lower 48” in 2009 to be closer to his children.
Raymond personified The Greatest Generation, living an adventurous, big life with the lifelong heart of a student. He took big swings and he lit up a room. The measure of our loss now is the happiness we knew then, and we know that he is not lost but simply gone before.
Semper fidelis, Dad.
There will a private celebration of Raymond’s life in Pacifica, CA, with a headstone placed in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Veterans’ Cemetery near that of his wife. The family asks that any wishing to honor his memory make donations to the American Legion.