Obituary: Jim Patterson
July 4, 1965 – May 20, 2019
Jim Patterson died in his home in Phippsburg, Colorado on May 20, 2019, at age 53, following a brief, 2-month battle with aggressive pancreatic cancer. Jim was editor of the Craig Press in Craig, Colorado.
Jim was born James Conrad Patterson in Camden, Arkansas, to Jeanette McAlister Patterson and Daniel Webster Patterson. He grew up in South Arkansas with his brother, Dan, and sister, Helen. He graduated from Camden Fairview High School in 1983 and attended Henderson State University, earning an associate degree in business administration, and later, double bachelor degrees in biology and chemistry from Arkansas State University.
Professionally, Jim was an award-winning journalist, columnist and editor. He moved to Colorado in February 2015 to be evening editor at Steamboat Pilot & Today in Steamboat Springs. In September 2017, he was hired on as editor of the Craig Press in Craig, where he worked until his death. Previously, Jim worked as a news editor, copy editor, paginator, photographer, reporter and columnist at the Camden News, El Dorado News Times, Paragould Daily Press and the Jonesboro Sun. He shared his keen, well-reasoned insights on matters local and beyond in popular editorial columns that were thoughtful, original and full of his personality and humor.
A third-degree black belt in Taekwondo, Jim taught students of all ages at the American Taekwondo Association Black Belt Academy in Camden. He was an accomplished musician, with a deep baritone voice which he shared with several church choirs, a barbershop quartet, and his surprisingly resonant shower stall. Jim never lost touch with his inner child, and always had a knack for connecting with and inspiring young people, often at the expense of his own dignity, and he enjoyed leading the church youth groups at St. Mark and Griffin Memorial United Methodist churches in Arkansas.
In his free time, Jim wrote short stories, screenplays, poems and co-authored an unpublished novel with his chosen brother, Brad McLelland, who’s kind of a big deal. Jim acted on stage in college and for the South Arkansas Arts Center, the Upstage Repertory Theater and other groups. In the 2000s, Jim became part of the Arkansas filmmaking community, winning awards for writing, directing, producing and acting in short films. He felt deeply connected to the natural world, particularly to the rough, wild beauty of Colorado, his chosen home, and earlier this month was excited to finally see a moose. He enjoyed hiking in the Rockies, experiencing wildlife and competing in physical activities like “tough mudders” with friends. He found his cats’ antics to be endlessly fascinating sources of joy and, according to his roommates, he once farted so loud the lights dimmed. (Jim more or less asked us to include this.)
Jim had an uncommonly generous heart, a dazzling intelligence and a profound curiosity about the world and the people in it. He loved working in the newspaper industry and believed deeply in the communities he served. In all things, Jim advocated and encouraged critical thinking and holding respectful dialogue — as well as treasuring friendships — across the political spectrum. He was a political uniter, an animal rescuer, a self-proclaimed geek, spelunker, philosopher, walking dictionary, an incorrigible goofball and an unparalleled friend.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by a brother, Dan Patterson, of Little Rock, Arkansas; a sister, Helen (Chris) Aregood, of Camden; an uncle, John (Katsy) McAlister; niece Mary Aregood; nephews Donald Maxfield, John Aregood, Noah Patterson, Micah Patterson and Eli Patterson; great-nieces Cassidy Pecanty, Tiffany PecAnty and Aubrie Aregood; great-nephews Jordan Pecanty and Christopher Aregood; roommates Michael Armstrong and Eric Vaughan; and his two beloved cats, LJ and Mr. Pocket.
Jim claimed as his family many more friends he made throughout his life, and he will live on through colorful stories and happy memories he made with his many loved ones.
Jim’s life was celebrated Saturday, June 1 at 11 a.m., preceded by a visitation at 10 a.m., at Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church in Little Rock. His Colorado friends will honor Jim at a memorial gathering yet to be announced. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund in Steamboat Springs at yvcf.org/trails, which helps maintain the trails and wilderness that helped sustain Jim, or give to your local animal shelter.
Goodnight, Blue-Tongue Lizard.
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