Gerald Patterson
1926 - 2016
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Gerald "Jerry" Roy Patterson

August 22, 2016

Gerald Roy Patterson, award-winning scientist, passed away gracefully in his home on August 22nd, 2016. He died in the arms of his wife and devoted partner of more than 40 years, Marion Forgatch, and surrounded by his family. Jerry shared a rich life filled with love and laughter with his family, close friends, and cherished colleagues. Dr. Patterson was a charismatic idealist who was not motivated by money or fame. Instead, he devoted his life's work to making the world a better place. Driven by his relentless curiosity and passion for science, Jerry did not hesitate to blaze his own trail. His incredible journey is well documented in his numerous personal and professional publications. He was a unique man who questioned everything, challenged the status quo, and found answers in places overlooked by many.

Jerry was born in North Dakota and grew up at the edge of "canoe country" in northern Minnesota. His family worked on the railroad and in the iron mines. As the oldest son, Jerry contributed to his family's support by trapping and fishing in the wilderness. He later worked as a canoe guide in the Boundary Waters and the Canadian Quetico, where he developed the outdoor skills necessary to travel safely through the wilderness. When Jerry was in his late 40's, he and Marion began taking month-long hiking and canoe trips in the north country of Canada and Alaska. Their trips with family and friends are beautifully described in Jerry's memoirs, "A Guide's Tale" and "Free and Moving." Dr. Patterson loved to test his own limits and share the pristine beauty of nature in the raw. He was known to "talk" to loons and could summon ravens with his call. In many ways, Dr. Patterson was the living embodiment of an era that is now all but lost.

After receiving his doctorate from the University of Minnesota, Dr. Patterson went on to become one of the most prominent researchers in the field of psychology. Guided by his passion for helping families, he was one of the first investigators to develop empirical measurements of family interactions and use the resulting data to propose and test new theories and evidence-based treatments for troubled families. In recognition of his achievements, Dr. Patterson has received many awards, including a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association (APA). In the words of Dr. Alan Kazdin, past president of the APA, "... Dr. Gerald R. Patterson's contributions to psychology include widely-cited coercion theory, early leadership in the behavior therapy movement, ground-breaking and paradigmatic research on aggression and antisocial behavior, and the development and empirical testing of parent management training." More than a million copies of Jerry's books on parenting ("Families, Living with Children", and "Parents and Adolescents") have been sold. He has published hundreds of journal articles and dozens of book chapters. He is one of the most widely cited researchers in his field. Dr. Patterson took great joy in mentoring upcoming researchers and influenced the thinking of countless psychologists. The impact of his work will be felt for decades to come. In spite of his vast achievements, he remained approachable and unpretentious, engaging people with a gentle humor and irrepressible desire for meaningful conversation.

Jerry Patterson joined the army at age 17 and fought in WWII in Okinawa for three months until he was wounded in combat. He received the Purple Heart as well as the Bronze Star for exemplary service. His wartime experience haunted him until his death, leading him to study the origins of war. Ultimately he wrote a collection of anti-war poems describing what he referred to as his "loss of innocence."

Jerry is survived by his wife, Marion Forgatch, and his five children: Craig, Scot, Dana, Jane, and Erik, all of whom reside in Oregon; daughters-in-law: Teo and Jessyca; son-in-law, Rod; and five grandchildren: Miles, Kobin, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Finnian. Not surprisingly, Dr. Patterson's family members have developed the strong will and character needed to survive their outdoor adventures with their father. They also share his curiosity about the world, willingness to blaze new trails, and passion for helping others.

Jerry Patterson never wrote a bucket list because he did it all. He enjoyed good wine and gourmet food, hiking, downhill and cross country skiing, fly fishing, sailing, playing the harmonica, studying math, reading, writing, and storytelling. His life was interwoven with countless others, both personally and professionally. The world has lost one of its heroes, but his legacy lives on. Undoubtedly, people from all walks of life will continue to be inspired by his example and his work for decades to come and take up Jerry Patterson's quest to make the world a better place.

In Jerry's last days, he expressed regret to be leaving before solving the many problems of negative reinforcement, a mechanism that plays a major function within coercion theory. We have established a trust in his name to carry on this work: the "Jerry Patterson Coercion Chautauqua." This trust will be used to bring together scholars to continue his research. Information about contributing is on the Implementation Sciences International website:

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, August 28th, from 12 to 4 pm, at the Veterans Memorial Building in Eugene and is open to the public.

Published in Eugene Register-Guard on Aug. 28, 2016.
Memorial service
12:00 - 04:00 PM
Veterans Memorial Building
Memories & Condolences
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10 entries
September 26, 2016
What an amazing gifted teacher and champion of children and families he was. I was very fortunate to be one of Jerry's students. This was early in my teaching career and using his wisdom I taught autistic children and many others. May his legacy continue. RIP.
Jobeth Anderson
September 25, 2016
I skied with Jerry for years, and once went fly-fishing with him. I wish I had worked with him. He was a marvelously feeling human being. I'll miss him.
Benson Schaeffer
September 4, 2016
I'm so sorry that Wes and I missed the memorial for Jerry. He was such a significant influence on me in my journey to become a psychologist. I have used his concepts of social learning and coercion regularly and have handed out many copies of "Families." Thank you, Jerry and Marion.
Joanna Hoskins
September 1, 2016
Marvelously creative researcher, extraordinarily charming person, important contributor to the field. My homage to him in his passing, and a hug to you, Marion.
Carlos Sluzki
August 31, 2016
In 2006 I was introduced to the PMTO community when The Netherlands started implementing PMTO at several agencies. I then quickly saw that PMTO was based on many years of research and dedication by a team that was inspired by Jerry Patterson.

When I met him at his house, he was very eager to get to know the people, the first Dutch group of therapists that would drive PMTO forward in the Netherlands. You could see his eyes twinkle when he told the group about what was driving him.

Later, in 2009, Jan Ehrhardt and I started our compony Tools for Research and with that we could expand, based on the previous work for PMTO. In fact we can say that our company is based on the years and years of work by Jerry Patterson and the people around him. We will never forget that.
Tammo ter Hark
August 29, 2016
Jerry was one of the heroes of my life who my friends often heard me refer to as my Papa Scientist.' I'm so grateful to have known him and have had an opportunity to participate in the work that he and his wife, Marion, have been continually developing and improving for over forty years. In my role as data and technology coordinator, I often archived awards that had been presented to Jerry. The one I loved the most was a presidential citation from the American Psychology Association, because it not only honored him for his five decades of exemplary contributions, his ground-breaking research on aggression and antisocial behavior, his writings on the origin of war, and mentorship of researchers scientists and clinicians, but best of all, it noted his zest for life that provides a model of the balance between professional accomplishments and personal well-being. That was Jerry. His presence will be missed, but his positive impact on the world is irrevocable and his work continues to be developed by researchers and scientists around the world because that is his and Marion's credo: Always working to make it better.
Will Phillips
August 28, 2016
I just learned of Jerry's passing today and I'm saddened by this news. Marion and family, I send my prayers over you all during this time of grieving. I was blessed to have spent 11 years at OSLC and to have had the opportunity to work with you and Jerry. Love and blessings...Linda Wallenius
Linda Wallenius
August 28, 2016
It was my privilege to work with Jerry as he finally was able to read his war poems outloud. We shed many tears over the poems and he perhaps found some peace in that.
An amazing mind and heart! Play on with your harmonica,Jerry! RIP
Jane Eyre McDonald
August 28, 2016
Wishing blessings of love and peace for Marion and family in this time of celebration of Jerry's life.
William Conwill
August 28, 2016
Later today in Eugene, Oregon, there will be a memorial service for Dr. Gerald Patterson. There will be many people who gather to share condolences with Marion and their family, friends, and colleagues. Here in Michigan, my thoughts cross the country to be with you today. Each of your storylines with Dr. Jerry is interwoven with everyone else's story in how you all knew this extraordinary man. Because this seemed to be the nature of Gerald Patterson: He was deeply connected to the earth. And he extended his sense of how this felt, into navigating his way to help people connect together in the ways that matter.

How can I know this when I only met Dr. Jerry once in-person and enjoyed a brief telephone conversation? It is from all the evidence surrounding Dr. Jerry and radiating from him that taught me what a great Connector he was: That community --- with nature and with each other --- is the essential core of living. I know this from reading his books, these jewels where he recounts his life experiences [A Guide's Tale; Free and Moving (loved Chapter 3: Finding Your Marion)]. I know this from his video messages shown in PMTO conferences...

But most of all I know this from my experiences with a few of the people so close to Dr. Jerry: Marion; Laura; Margaret; Margret; Mona; Nancy; Kelly; Cheryl (H); Jon; Will; Jeremy; Anna; Cathy; and Luann. Each one of you reflects that light that beacons others to join and connect. How inspiring to me that Dr. Jerry was so inclusive. He devoted his profession to studying ways that people find themselves socially detached from those around them --- and the remedies for creating pathways of return for them. And so I feel that in this sense Dr. Jerry metaphorically championed guiding "the protocol son" --- and maybe the protocol spirit? --- back home again. Dr. Jerry knew how this felt first-hand. He was a decorated WWII hero, who returned home devastated inside. He felt lost and on the fringe until he found his way back when he met Marion. So he knew.

And now decades later, we celebrate all the ways he touched so many lives. As for me, I am so grateful to be part of the PMTO family across this Earth because of the rich, deep of value for nature and humanity. I marvel at the sense of joy that Dr. Jerry and the people so close to him shared together. I am sending my sympathy and blessings to all of you today. Peace be with you.
Love, Cheryl (Greer)
Cheryl Greer
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