John W. Patton 84 of Sheridan died this Easter Sunday afternoon, April 5, 2015 at the Sheridan Memorial Hospital due to pulmonary failure after suffering a heart attack about seven weeks prior while serving in the state legislature in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
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John was born October 16, 1930 in Glendive, Montana to Dee A. and Olivia A. (nee Forster) Patton, both of whom preceded him in death. The family moved to Harlowton, Montana, and then to Dillon, Montana where John graduated from Beaverhead County High School with the class of 1948. He married Virginia L. "Jin" Tovey of Dillon and they had 5 children over a span of 18 years. They moved to Sheridan, Wyoming in 1954.
In addition to his parents, John was preceded in death by one daughter Susan G. (George) Fletcher, and one grandson Jonathan Stratton. He is survived by his wife; older brother Dee M. (Judy) Patton of Helena, Montana; son William D. "Bill" (Kathy) Patton of Sheridan, Wyoming; daughter Virginia L. "Jinny" (Brad) Stratton of Bozeman, Montana; her twin John C. "Jack" (Debbie) Patton of Cheyenne, Wyoming; son James T. "Jamie or JT" Patton of St. Cloud, Florida; 12 grand children; and 9 great grand children.
Settling in Sheridan, Wyoming as their primary home base, John and Jin Patton began their very active life together raising family, conducting various businesses, and serving their community. John found new opportunity in Sheridan by purchasing an insurance company, J. W. Patton (1954), as well a good community to raise a family. All who knew John, also knew that Jin was integral to all of his business and political service. Initially, Jin had her Montana license to drive an automobile, but such was the nature of their marriage, she did not renew it in Wyoming. Whether traveling to the grocery store, or across country, John did the driving with Jin at his side through it all.
After having his own insurance agency, John formed partnerships as Ralston-Patton, Levi-Patton, and Miller-Patton (1954-1973). The 1950s was also the beginning of their political service, with John serving on the Sheridan City council (1959-1960); Wyoming State Legislature, House of Representatives (1961-1967); Wyoming State Legislature, Senate (1967-1971). Two decades later, John and Jin moved around to Kansas City, Missouri and Denver, Colorado while serving as Director of Operations for the Citizens' Conference on State Legislatures (1973-76). The work with Citizens' Conference to develop and promote good legislative practices introduced John to numerous, interesting people and opportunities. The story goes, President Gerald Ford, asked, "don't we know anybody west of the Mississippi?" The "tall blonde" from Wyoming was thus recruited back to political service as Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, United States Department of Transportation (1976-1977).
After Washington, DC, John and Jin moved back to Sheridan where he joined BHJ Insurance as the head of the real estate department, subsequently helping create the affiliation between BHJ and Century 21. In 1977 Tepee Creek Development was started with John as President; a real estate development in the Big Horn Mountains. John's insurance and real estate business activities in the late 1970s transitioned into work opportunities in the market. He became a stock broker with Dean Witter in the 1980s and stayed with them through various mergers until his retirement in 2002. John was a member of Rotary for numerous years, culminating as the Rotary Club of Sheridan President in 2001, and District 5440 Governor (2005). Since 2009 (to present), John was fortunate enough to be elected back into political service in the Wyoming State Legislature, House of Representatives. His passion for education and good government practices were the core values of his political career.
John helped with All American Indian Days Pageant in its early stages. John and Jin and family were honored to host two Miss Indian Americans, gaining two more daughters; Sarah A. (Johnson) Luther in 1967 and Melanie (Tallmadge) Sainz in 1980. John was active in St. Peter's Episcopal Church, singing in the choir, was Senior Warden on the Vestry and mentoring the EFM Class. He was a Scout Master for the Church and received the Silver Beaver (1966) and the St. George Award (1985). His love of aviation inspired John to join a flying club and he was a licensed civilian pilot for many years. He enjoyed amusing people, saying he was a UFO, a United Flying Octogenarian.
He was also passionate about the arts, the outdoors and his family. Some of the plays and musicals he did were The Music Man, A Delicate Balance and The Fantastics and was an avid water color painter. If there was a doubt or question about how to catch a fish, hunt a bird or swing a golf club, John bought a book, or a stack of books. But when it came to love and the "how to" in raising a family, he asked the love of his life, Jin. One of the most common statements a friend or family member would hear from John William Patton was, "Oh, my life has been very blessed. I have many things to be thankful for."
Funeral services will be held at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Sheridan, WY on Saturday 11 April 2015 at 2:00 pm, MST, with a reception to follow at the Kalif Shrine Center. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Sheridan Senior Center, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, and Sheridan High School's, "We the People."
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Apr. 9, 2015