Michael R. Patterson (1949 - 2009)

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Michael Patterson passed away suddenly on June 17, 2009, at St. Patrick's Hospital in Missoula, the result of complications from an automobile accident near Drummond. He was born Aug. 2, 1949, in Great Falls, to Chester M Patterson and Ethel Mae (Cramer) Patterson.

Michael spent his early years in school in Great Falls, attending Whittier elementary, Paris Gibson Junior High and Great Falls High School. During his junior year he played "Evil Eye Fleegle" in the play "Lil Abner" and received standing ovations for each performance, stealing the limelight from the other actors in more starring roles. The Great Falls Tribune article praised Michael on his enthusiastic and outstanding performance. Michael graduated from Great Falls High School in 1968.

After graduating from high school, Michael served in the United States Army for two years, 1972 and 1973, and was very proud to wear the Army uniform.

Michael enrolled in the School of Welding at Montana Tech where he received an Associate Degree in Welding. Soon after graduating he went to Seattle where he began working in the shipyards welding private, corporate and military vessels. His unique welding skills were appreciated by several foreign corporations around the world, and he was proud to be asked to travel to Russia and Egypt for various welding assignments. He was assigned as a welder for major hull modifications to four submarines being retrofitted in Alexandria, Egypt. He often joked that the Egyptians had the most intelligent "quality control system" for submarine hulls - if you were involved in any of the hull work, you were required to go on board for four short cruises, submerge to 1,500 meters for several hours before Egypt would accept your work and pay your expenses.

During his assignment in Egypt, Michael learned of a foreign language institute in China that was hiring potential foreign language teachers for assignments in China. Always looking forward to new challenge, Michael applied to teach English and spent three rewarding years teaching English to Chinese college preparatory students in Changchun, China. He also enjoyed learning the Chinese language and culture and traveling the countryside.

Mike also crewed on ocean-going fishing vessels and enjoyed fishing off the west coast from California to Alaska. He was employed by Fishing Vessels of Baranof, Seattle, Wash., at the time of his death.

Michael reveled in discussing philosophy and different religions with his friends and acquaintances all around the globe and believed that each individual was the sum of their personal experiences and accumulated memories. He would often encourage friends to savor every moment spent with your family and to always remember only the good experiences. He enjoyed travel, photography, teaching, traveling to foreign ports, drinking coffee, challenging conversations on current events and becoming friends with the native citizens around the world.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Michael is survived by the loves of his life, his son Chad and daughter-in-law Misty and his two grandchildren, Seth and Makala of Priest River, Idaho. Other survivors include two brothers, Dr. Earl Patterson (Betty) of Helena, and Ronald of Belgrade; and sister, Patty Gunderson (Mervin), also of Belgrade. He is also survived by nephews, Shawn Patterson of Billings, Patrick Patterson of Austin, Texas, Kelly Patterson and Craig Patterson of Dallas, Texas, and Orin Gunderson (Kristen) of Las Vegas, Nev.

Funeral services to celebrate Michael's life will be held at a later date.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on July 5, 2009
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