William Albert Patterson Jr., 95, of Winona, Minn., formerly of Sun Lakes, Arizona and White Bear Lake, Minn., died on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Bill was born on November 25, 1921, in St. Paul, Minn., to William Albert Patterson and Mildred (Warnock) Patterson. Bill was a kind, honorable man who pursued excellence in everything he did. He graduated at the top of his class from White Bear Lake High School and then attended Carleton College before enrolling in the United States Naval Academy, class of 1944, where he excelled in academics and played on the Navy football team.
Following graduation, he married Mary Ann Oslund at the Naval Academy Chapel and began his Naval service during World War II on the USS Guest, deployed to the Pacific.
He then went to Naval Flight School, receiving his wings in August 1945. He flew SB2C Helldivers off the USS Midway on deployments to the Arctic, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean.
After leaving the Navy he worked first with his father at Patterson Construction Company putting in power lines across Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota. In 1955 Bill began a 30-year career with Northern Ordnance/FMC where his humility, commitment, loyalty, and strong work ethic won him the admiration of coworkers. He was first a field engineer installing missile systems on ships at shipyards in Boston and Quincy, Mass.; Bath, Maine; and Brooklyn, N.Y., and he traveled widely to other locations to troubleshoot these systems. He then worked at the Pentagon as a consulting engineer before returning to Minnesota in managerial positions at Northern Ordnance/FMC. At the time of his retirement, Bill was the manager of manufacturing responsible for a 3,000-person workforce. His retirement party in 1983 overflowed with colleagues, union members, management, and family.
Bill and Mary Ann’s family includes four children. Together they enjoyed family vacations, and frequent trips back to Minnesota to visit relatives. His love for the outdoors and nature was passed along to his children with time spent in the Maine woods, family canoe trips in the Boundary Waters, and weekends at the family cabin on Lake Washburn. Bill also passed on to his children a sense of obligation in all endeavors and of service to others. He modeled both as an active member of his community, volunteering with the American Red Cross, Rotary, and Radio Talking Books, and serving in leadership positions with his church. Bill was very proud of his Scottish and Presbyterian heritage.
Bill enjoyed many hobbies including golf, gardening, curling, hunting, fishing, hiking, and canoeing. As the years passed, he loved watching his grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow. He continued to model perseverance, discipline, and tenacity and steadfastness even while dealing with the impediments of aging. Bill completed a 5k with his family the year of his 90th birthday and continued to toss footballs with his great-grandchildren. At his 90th birthday party he quoted Lou Gehrig, saying “I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Survivors include his four children, son, William A. III, Ph.D. (Joan) of Northfield, Mass., and their children, Karen (Jeff) Greene, William A. IV (Cindy) Patterson, and David (Sarah Deeb) Patterson; daughter, Ann E. Gibson, Ed.D. (Tom, deceased) of Winona, Minn., and their children, Thomas W. Gibson, Claire (William) Ragen, William E. (Jennifer) Gibson, and R. Drew (Alissa) Gibson; son, James H., J.D. (Jolanda) of Minneapolis, Minn., and their children, Jenifer (Andy) O’Keefe, Jamie Ann Patterson, John (Catherine) Patterson, and James M. (Abbrielle) Patterson; and son, Roger J., J.D. (Toni LeBel) of La Cañada, Calif., and their children, Kyle and Ryan Patterson; great-grandchildren, Ben and Fin Greene; Tyler, Luke, and Ethan Patterson; Eleanor and Sam Patterson; Billy, Thomas, and Annie Ragen; Theo Gibson; John, Elizabeth, Erin, Emily, and Grace Gibson; Siena and Madeleine O’Keefe; Eloise and Elizabeth Patterson; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ann; son-in-law, Thomas Gibson; sisters, Elizabeth Judd and Mildred Deans; and nearly all of his lifelong friends.
The family would like to thank the caretakers at Sugar Loaf Senior Living and Winona Hospice for their care of Bill. Special thanks are extended to Enid Underdahl and Joan Hinds for their friendship and loving care of Bill in recent years.
A memorial service will be held at Grace Presbyterian Church, 222 East Broadway, Winona, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 23, 2017, with visitation one hour prior to the service. Interment with Military Honors will take place at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at 11:45 a.m. on Monday, September 25. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the American Red Cross, Grace Presbyterian Church, or donor’s choice.