Richard Patterson
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Richard W. Patterson

Resident of San Jose

Richard died unexpectedly from a stroke on June 22, 2011 at Valley Medical Center, surrounded by family and friends and colleagues. He was 48 years old. Richard was employed by the Rehabilitation Research Center at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose. He was the Clinical Support Coordinator for Persons with Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries since 1995 and led the peer-support counseling program there for the past 15 years. He was a tireless advocate for individuals with disabilities, committee member for the Public Authority for In-Home-Supportive-Services, a co-chair of the Disability Advisory Commission for the City of San Jose, and instrumental in the start-up and success of Accessible Adventures for People with Disabilities. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Adapted Physical Education in 1996, and his Master's Degree in Counseling Education with an emphasis in Traumatic Injury and Lifestyle Counseling in 1998, both from San Jose State University.

At the age of 19, Richard himself suffered an accident which left him a quadriplegic. He spent a year in the very hospital where he would later come to be a very valued employee. At the time of his accident, Richard's goals were unclear but he loved life in the fast lane and especially race car driving.

Richard's life turned out very different than anyone could have imagined. Once he decided, not to accept his fate, but instead to make the most of the life, he did just that. He became an inspiration for thousands, and his legacy will continue to inspire thousands more.

Richard never let his disability keep him from doing what he wanted to do. He loved skydiving and eventually set the world record for the highest tandem parachute jump by a disabled person. He took scuba diving lessons, drove a race car, piloted an airplane and competed in the Special Olympics in swimming. He was a spokesperson for Canine Companions of Santa Rosa and received three assistance dogs. He loved his dogs! He was also on the board of the Tapestry in Arts event in San Jose.

Richard was preceded in death by his mother, Edna Daigh, less than a year ago. He is survived by his father, Robert Patterson of Las Vegas, NV, his step-father Lawrence Daigh of Groveland, CA, his sisters, Susan Hellsten of Sunsites, AZ, Robin Patterson of Groveland, CA, and Sally Patterson of San Jose, CA, his step-sister, Kirsten Lennen of Groveland, CA, and step-brothers, Steve, Eric and Kurt Daigh of Idaho. He is also survived by the love of his life, his fiance, Ligia Andrade of San Jose, CA.

A Memorial and Celebration of Richard's life will be held on July 19th at The Pointe, 3695 Rose Terrasse Circle, San Jose, CA from 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., refreshments to follow. A foundation has been set up in Richard's name to continue the work that was so important to him. Please visit if you wish to donate or if you just want to browse the website.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Jul. 3, 2011.
Memories & Condolences
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30 entries
October 30, 2011
Richard was a very close friend and part of my family for 30+ years. Richard was a wonderful, caring and giving person and you made my life that much sweeter becuse of knowing you. I miss you everyday, until we meet again.
Shelley Borel
September 6, 2011
Thank you all for your kind words and rememberances. Richard was a wonderful man. He gave so much to so many, including his family. I miss him everyday. My sister's and I were sharing stories just last weekend; laughing and crying. They indeed broke the mold when they made him.

I didn't know this online guest book was here and I am so happy to have stumbled upon it. Thank you again for your love, I so appreciated reading your words.

Richard's sister...
Robin Patterson
July 20, 2011
I will miss you my Friend. You would of liked your Memorial it was a great tribute to you and what you acomplished in this short time on earth. The disabled community lost a great Warrior when you passed. You now have a perfect body in Heaven and I look forward to the day when I see you again. Love & Peace my Friend
Bob Spisak
July 19, 2011
Condolence to the family.
Jeff Flovin
July 19, 2011
From the day I met you so many years ago at my mom house, you had a smile that just made people like you. From those dark days at the hospital in Santa Cruz to the many hours you and I would talk in your room at mom's house, you had become family and I am and always will be proud to call you my brother. I will miss those talks and I will always have so many good memories of you. Where ever you may be now may your need for speed be ever lasting. Your friend and brother.
Jeff Haage
July 6, 2011
Richard was my friend.. I will never forget your courage. Thanks for supporting me throughout my early stages of brain injury. I don't know how else I would have handled some of the craziness of my brain injury without you. Thank you!!!I miss you.
Gerard Thacher
July 6, 2011
Richard, you are my best friend and will never forget you. I will miss your smile and kindness for me and your godson anthony. You have done sooo much for us i dont even know where to start. I regret that i did not get the chance to tell you how much i love you Rich. I have told you but just not lately. Im soo sorry little buddy. You are the most amazing person i ever met. We had soo many good times i dont know where to start. In glad i got to meet and know you back in 1979. Me and anthony love you soo much. God has you now and i know you will be taken care of. God bless you Rich
Tony Carsella
July 5, 2011
Rich was always my hero. He used to come and talk to my freshmen students about 'no excuses' for personal success. For a rowdy bunch of hormonally-motivated students, they listened with such respect that you could have heard a pin drop. He was always there for me. My regards for all of the family and everyone that supported Rich as your efforts helped him touch many lives. I will miss him greatly. And I mean, GREATLY.
Love, and I'll miss you.
Collette Copes
July 5, 2011
I was always amazed at how many lives you touched through out your life Rich. You accomplished much, but most of all you were there for people who were suffering. Your life was not wasted and it was a joy to see you so involved in making life a little easier for those like you. You are an inspiration to me.
Cheryl Sampino
July 4, 2011
From the Christoferson Family; Our condolences to Rich's family. He was a man among men and a person that many men can take a few lessons from in conquering lifes many pitfalls. Rich we love you and rest in peace knowing there are no wheelchairs in heaven!
July 4, 2011
I did not know Richard but after reading his obituary I have to say that he sounds like such a wonderful person. My prayers are with the family now.
kim burchfield
July 4, 2011 are my hero. May the blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you as you lie in His arms.
Tom Dennis
July 3, 2011
thank you richard for your support of the every 15 minutes program and always coming out to talk to the student!
virginia jones
July 3, 2011
Rich was one of the best people I've ever known. He has given us a legacy of kindness, integrity, humor, and commitment to living life to its fullest. We will all be hard-pressed to live up to his example. I am so blessed to have been his friend.
Ketra Toda
July 3, 2011
You were a great inspiration to all who you touched with your smile and gentle conversation.I will truly miss seeing you at VMC. God bless, till we meet again.
July 2, 2011
Regarding my previous message about Rich's appearance on the public access show, On the Move: I had hoped that readers could click on the link and view the show. But apparently that's not possible. So if the link below still isn't live, please copy and paste it into the address line of your browser:
Joan Hare
July 2, 2011
Richard was often a guest host on On the Move, a public access show dedicated to the empowerment of people with disabilities, where I am a volunteer crew member. Richard can be see here interviewing Kirk Feyerabend about rediscovering meaning in life after a traumatic spinal cord injury. (Recorded at KMVT Studios, Mountain View, CA, March 2004)
Joan Hare
July 1, 2011
It was a honor and blessing, just to be your friend!
My friend from California.I knew Richard with Teddy Lutjen, and Gary Beech. He always amazed me at his courage. I remember watching him graduate from college. When I complain about my neuropathology and I cant drive.And do other things I think I am such a baby... Look what Richard could do. He truly was a hero! My Grandson and Teddy's 19 Year old step son Stephen just died too, I am sure when you reach heaven, Stephen will be there to meet you. I know you loved Stephen too. Love you Richard!
Debbie Seven (mroz)
July 1, 2011
Richard was the first person to make me smile after my SCI in August of 2009. I will never forget the day he rolled into my room at SCV and gave me hope. Rest in peace Richard.
Marshann Fuqua
July 1, 2011
Richard was a man with a warm heart and caring soul. The inner strength he had, served as a guiding light for others to follow. He truly inspired greatness and encouraged people to live life as it was meant to be lived...with joy in your heart. I will miss his words of wisdom and insight. He will live on in the hearts and minds of those he touched. May peace gently embrace all of those family and friends that were fortunate enough to have had Richard touch their lives. I am forever grateful, knowing I met a man with true dignity and grace in the face of extreme adversity and challenges. Cherish the memories you hold in your hearts and carry his message and vision forward.
Gina Biter-Mundt
July 1, 2011
Richard, I thank our Lord Jesus Christ for spending our time together at our TBI support group and as a volunteer, and in your support in my life. I have missed you the last three years I am in Florida, however my thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends.
Dave Loria
July 1, 2011
My prayers are with you.
emma munoz
June 30, 2011
I was happy and feel blessed that I got to see Richard for a moment a few weeks ago,I hadn't seen him since moving to Vancouver WA over 11 years ago. He will be missed and has left a legacy of hope and inspiration for people with and without disabilities. I am so happy that his vision will live on. I was a SCI patient and volunteer at Valley Medical Center.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his
fiancee & family. With Love,
Connie Brittain
June 30, 2011
I only knew Richard for the last year or so of his life. I can, however, discern the impact he had through the intense grief being expressed by so many of my colleagues and friends. Clearly he will be greatly missed.
Mark Romoser
June 30, 2011
Our son broke his spine in multiple places16 years ago yesterday. After two years hard and talented work he walked again although not without challenges. We share your pain and celebrate a life well lived. We hope for even more research success.
Anthony Layzell
June 30, 2011
Richard, You will me missed but your sweet smile will live in our hearts forever. Much love.
Summer Domdey
June 30, 2011
You made a difference in the lives you touched, you are missed already. May God bless your family during this time of sorrow.
Mary Tinker
June 30, 2011
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Amy Howell-Armijo
June 30, 2011
Richard, you enriched the lives of so many. Your work will live on forever as well as your memory. You will truly be missed.
Carroll Franklin
June 29, 2011
Richard, you made a tremendous difference!
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