Robert Edward Patterson died last week after a decade long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. He was 70. Gentle, strong, and infectiously optimistic, Bob was born in Bloomington, Indiana in 1946 to John Patterson and Mary Elma Curl. After studying Chemical Engineering at UCLA under mentor Ken Nobe, Bob embarked on a forty-year career in aerospace. At 22, he designed photovoltaic solar panels for JPL. By the end of his work life, he directed Mission Assurance across Northrop Grumman's entire Space & Technology division. Throughout his life, Bob applied his scientific mind in creative ways. He once wooed a long-distance girlfriend, Karen Berkey, by describing with exactitude the precise beauty of her night sky. Bob married Karen in 1983. And together they nurtured what would become the great passion of his life -- his family. A Manhattan Beach resident across four decades, Bob spent his free time bodysurfing and headtripping with Dave Williamson and Jim Berryhill. And climbing the Sand Dune with Kelli McCabe. In recent years, he became an advocate for Alzheimer's awareness, serving on the board of the Alzheimer's Association alongside his good friend, Dr. Jeffrey Cummings. With the help of his caregiver, Lula Suleiman, Bob approached the daunting challenge of living with Alzheimer's with his characteristic strength and grace. In addition to Karen and siblings Mary Jane Kingman and Bill Patterson, Bob is survived by his children Dylan Berkey, Melanie Berkey, and Matthew Patterson -- and by his grandson, Oliver Tranchi. All of whom remember him as a man who lived with profound integrity and warmth. As a man who left this world having experienced -- deeply -- that most simple yet elusive of human traits: happiness. Memorial donations may be made in Bob's name to Opica or to Alzheimer's Greater LA.
Published in Los Angeles Times from Jul. 15 to Jul. 17, 2016.