Robert Hudson Patterson was born December 11, 1936, to Hubert and Beth Jones Patterson in Alexandria, Louisiana, and died quietly at home, surrounded by family and friends, on May 10, 2014, in Austin, Texas.
Bob was raised by his grandparents, Robert and Florence Jones, in Jackson, Mississippi, after the death of his father in 1943. His grandfather owned a hardware store, which engendered in Bob a life-long love of gadgets and of ordering the world around him. He graduated from Central High School in 1954 and Millsaps College in 1958. Several college road trips to Mexico kindled a passion for the country's art and culture, and he received a M.A. with advanced graduate work in Latin American History from Tulane University in 1963, and a M.L.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1965. He then began a long career in library administration.
After working at Tulane University from 1965-1970, Bob moved with his family to Austin in 1970 where he was Head of Special Collections Cataloging at the Humanities Research Center (now the Harry Ransom Center). He returned to Tulane University from 1973-1976, then became the Director of the University of Wyoming Library from 1976-1981. He was Dean of Libraries at the University of Tulsa from 1981-1998. Bob was hailed by colleagues as a pioneer and leader in the library preservation movement, and was the founding editor and publisher of Conservation Administration News (CAN) from 1979-1994.
Following his retirement and move to Austin in 1998, Bob became an active community volunteer, and taught ESL at El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission. He received the Volunteer of the Year award from El Buen in 2006. He also traveled extensively, meeting his wife on a solo trip to San Miguel de Allende. With De, Bob explored Austin's great cultural offerings and found peace and tranquility in his later years. To his great surprise, he found a home and spiritual community at St. James Episcopal Church. He savored being a husband, father, and grandfather.
Bob is survived by his wife, De Sellers, daughter and son-in-law Jennifer and Todd Peters, daughter Emily Johnson, grandchildren Ben and Elizabeth Peters, all of Austin, two former spouses, and a host of friends and surrogate family from his high school, college, career, and post-retirement years. Peter Hernandez and John Zamarippa looked after Bob as his health declined, and they became close friends in addition to caretakers. We honor John and Peter for their staunch devotion to him.
Bob will be remembered for his wit and good humor (his high school annual quipped, "if Bob has had a serious thought, no one knows about it"), charm, open-mindedness, gentleness of spirit, his interest in personal discovery, love of architecture, classical history, music, travel and good food, perseverance, and the calm courage with which he faced his diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.
Donations in Bob's memory may be made to St. James Episcopal Church, Music Division (http://stjamesaustin.org/), and El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission (http://www.elbuen.org/). A memorial service will be held at St. James on May 31, 2014, 10 a.m.
Published in Austin American-Statesman from May 18 to May 19, 2014