The University of the Ozarks lost
a good and loyal friend. Dr. J.T. Patterson, Business
Manager at Ozarks from 1943-1982, passed away after an extended illness.
No one did more for this campus during his years of service than J.T.
Patterson. Ozarks has been blessed with a number of legendary, influential
administrators, and J.T. ranks with the best of them.
I wish I had known J.T. better and had been able to
work with him to learn from him during his prime. I know
that he would have made me a better administrator. I was fortunate enough
to have shared, with him and his family, one of his proudest moments,
and that was the day we
named the business office in his honor: the J.T. Patterson Business
Office. If ever a man deserved an area to be named for him, it is J.T.
and the business office. Ask Darrell Williams, the current Business
Manager, to share some of his J.T. stories with you. Be prepared for
some good ones.
My best memory of J.T. occurred a couple of years
ago. Shereé and I were hosting our annual dinner for Ozark retirees
in our home. J.T. and his beautiful wife, Lucile, were among the many
guests. After the meal, I asked each of the retirees to stand and share
a favorite memory about Ozarks.
When J.T. rose to speak, I noticed that he looked
tired. His shoulders were slumped, he was shaky and unsteady, and he
balanced himself by gripping onto the back of his chair. As he initially
spoke, his voice was soft and hesitant. Still, we all listened intently.
Gradually, then suddenly, a transformation occurred, and I knew we were
witnessing one of lifes amazing miracles. While he was reminiscing,
J.T.s voice grew strong and dynamic, his shoulders straightened,
and he removed his hands from the chair. And there he stood: in youthful
full height, voice booming, words smooth and assured, eyes dancing with
each of us. He was confident as a colt. Best of all, as Lucile watched
her husband, her smile radiated a lifetime of love and pride. I shall
always remember her smile.
The next time you go by the J.T. Patterson Business
Office, be certain to pause, silently thank J.T., and smile. I know
he will be standing tall and smiling back.
Dr. Rick Niece