Gadsden man to celebrate 103rd birthday Saturday


By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor

Ralph “Pat” Patterson is many things — a U.S. Navy veteran, an University of Alabama football fan, a retired bus driver and as of 2020, a centenarian.
Patterson was born to parents John Lauil Patterson and Agnes Cornelia Whorton Patterson on Sept. 2, 1920 in Gadsden. He had one brother, W.P. “Price” Patterson and one sister, Julia Belle Patterson Thompson.
Patterson, who turns 103 Saturday, joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 18 and served in the Pacific Theatre in World II. During his service with the navy, Patterson drove an amphibious vehicle that carried groups and equipment from ship to shore and fought in the Battle of Tawara on the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. During the three-day long battle in late November of 1943 between U.S. and Japanese forces, Patterson was ordered to abandon his craft because of enemy fire. Patterson and those aboard the vessel floated in the water for eight hours.
The Battle of Tarawa was the first American offensive in the Central Pacific region. It was also the first time in the Pacific Theatre of Operations that the United States faced serious Japanese opposition. Nearly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans and Americans died in the fighting, mostly on and around the small island of Betio, in the extreme southwest of Tarawa Atoll.
After the Battle of Tarawa, Patterson served at the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii for a short time.
Patterson then served at the San Diego Naval Base and was honorably discharged on December 18, 1945 and returned to Gadsden.
He married Jacqueline Miller on April 21, 1946 and they had two daughters together, Leslie McGlaughn and Patricia Kaye Choate. Patterson later married Delores Dean Patterson. They were married over 40 years when she passed in 2013.
Patterson drove a Continental Trailways bus for over 35 years and maintained an accident-free driving record. Upon retirement in 1987, he was honored for driving over three million miles.
Patterson has been honored by many schools as a guest of honor and recognized for his military service. He was also recognized by Rainbow City Mayor Joe Taylor and the Rainbow City City Council.

Patterson has plans for his 103rd birthday. He plans to attend an Alabama Crimson Tide football game. He has been an avid University of Alabama fan for his entire life and has had season tickets for the Crimson Tide home games for the last 40 years.
During football season, you will find Patterson, and his daughter Leslie, at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa watching the Tide.
According to McGlaughn, Patterson has made many friends through tailgating and attending the games.
Patterson has resided at Regency Pointe Retirement Community in Rainbow City for nine years.
He has six grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and just recently met his first great great grandchild, who was named after him.

Latest News

Treasured Kids Childcare moves to Attalla
Glencoe receives $500k for major road improvements
Gadsden, county partner to secure federal grant for lighting upgrades
Cardinals ‘adopt’ child battling brain tumor
Heart Gallery brings exhibit to Gadsden Mall

Latest Sports News

Westbrook wins second straight state golf title
Hokes Bluff finishes fourth at state golf
Lady Eagles go 1-2 at softball regionals
Westbrook falls just short of state baseball championship
Glencoe finishes a win shy of state softball tournament