Paul Patterson

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Paul Ivan Patterson

(American educator, novelist,
essayist, and storyteller)

Born March 28, 1909
Gaines County, Texas
Died March 14, 2008 (aged 98)
Crane County, Texas

Resting place:

Spouse Marjorie "Marge" Vincent Mixon Patterson
(married 1941-2005, her death)

No children
John Dee and Noda Pollard Patterson

Religion United Methodist

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
(Twelfth Air Force)
Rank Cryptographer
Battles/wars North African and Italian campaigns of World War II

Paul Ivan Patterson (March 28, 1909 - March 14, 2008) was a novelist, poet, short story writer, essayist, storyteller, and educator, primarily from Crane, Texas, a community forty-one miles south of the larger city of Odessa.


Patterson was born near Seminole in Gaines County in far West Texas near the New Mexico border. His father was John Dee Patterson (1869-1966), a native of Fannin County in North Texas; his mother, J. D.'s first wife, the former Noda Eula Pollard (1879-1970), was originally from Gatesville in Coryell County in Central Texas.[1] J. D. and Noda married on February 25, 1900, in Big Spring, in Howard County, also in West Texas.[2] There J. D. Patterson worked for a railroad and then operated a freight company.[3]

The Patterson family moved south to Rankin in Upton County. For three terms J. D. was the elected county judg] for Upton County. After a divorce from Noda c. 1926, when Paul was still a teenager, J. D., at fifty-eight, wed the former Sarah Caroline Conway (1876-1971), a native of Erath County who was divorced from William Elmore Long (1867-1943).[4] J. D. and "Sadie", as she was known, wed on May 21, 1927, in Big Lake in Reagan County. From this union, he acquired three stepdaughters and a stepson. J. D. and Sadie moved to Mineral Wells in Palo Pinto County, he farmed for the nearly forty remaining years of his life. He and Sadie were members of the Jehovah's Witnesses denomination. "Judge" Patterson, as he was still known after he left office, is interred at Sturdivant Cemetery in Mineral Wells,[2] along with his second wife, Sadie, who died at the age of ninety-five in Weatherford in Parker County west of Fort Worth.[4] Noda Patterson did not remarry; she died at the age of ninety-one, a year before Sadie and is interred along with her son at Rankin Cemetery.[5]

Paul Patterson graduated c. 1926 from Rankin High School. In 1935, he procured his Bachelor of Arts degree from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, from which years later he was named a "Distinguished Alumnus." His graduate work was undertaken at several institutions, including the University of Texas at Austin, Utah State University in Logan, Utah, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York. He also studied in Madrid, Spain, and Geneva, Switzerland[6]

During World War II, Patterson served as a cryptographer in the United States Army Air Forces with the Twelfth Air Force in the North African Theater of Operations and in the Italian Campaign.[6]

Author and educator

Patterson taught for more than forty years, mostly at Crane High School in Crane, a petroleum boomtown south of Odessa. He also taught in three other small towns in southwest Texas: Marfa in Presidio County, Sanderson in Terrell County, and, his last assignment, Sierra Blanca in Hudspeth County.[6] His best-known understudy in the field of Texas history in Crane was the journalist and western novelist Elmer Stephen Kelton (1926-2009), who died a year after Patterson. Kelton with great emotion said that all of his writing talent had been developed by his mentor Patterson and without Patterson there could have been no Kelton.[7][8]

Between his high school graduation and college enrollment Patterson was a cowboy. This background spurred his success as a folk humorist and teller of tall tales. His sharp wit is reflected in all of his works of literature. He received the Founders' Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cowboy Symposium sponsored by the [[American Cowboy Culture Association in Lubbock, Texas. He was an active member and past president of the Texas Folklore Society. He was affiliated with the West Texas Historical Association.[6]

Patterson's best-known book, Crazy Women in the Rafters: Memories of a Texas Boyhood (1976), is an account of growing up on a ranch near Upland, the first county seat of Upton County.[8][9]

His other works include:

  • Sam McGoo and Texas Too (1994),[10] illustrated by Elmer Kelton[11]
  • Backfire Trail[12]
  • Pecos River Pilgrim's Poems I[13]

Personal life

In 1941, Patterson married his fellow educator, the former Marjorie "Marge" Vincent Mixon, who predeceased him by nearly three years.[6] She was a daughter of William Abijah Mixon (1875-1952) and Ermine Hamlett (1875-1966).[14]

In retirement, the Pattersons traveled extensively and lived part of each year in Crane and Pecos in Reeves County, where Mrs. Patterson had inherited a house from a sister. The Pattersons had no children. He died in a nursing home in Crane two weeks before his 99th birthday. He was survived by a sister, Zora Gwendolyn Patterson Shaw (1912-2012) of Rankin, Texas,[15] and nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his three brothers,[6] Ralph C. Patterson (1900-1928), who died a year after their father's remarriage,[5] John H. Patterson, a rancher, and Fush Patterson, a barber in McCamey in Upton County.[3] and two sisters, Blanche Patterson Holmes and Madge Patterson Howell.[6]

In 2009, when a new welcoming sign to Crane was developed to honor Elmer Kelton as the "All-Time Best Western Author," the last line says at Kelton's request: "Student of Crane Teacher Paul Patterson."[16] Patterson is also honored with an exhibit beside that of Kelton at the Museum of the Desert Southwest in Crane. The Crane Public Library Reading Room, decorated in rustic décor, is named for Patterson. It contains many of his published books, articles, and short stories as well as personal memorabilia.[17]


  1. Paul I. Patterson. Retrieved on April 4, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 John Dee "Judge" Patterson. Retrieved on April 5, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Oral History interview: Fush Patterson, August 6, 1975. Texas Tech University. Retrieved on April 4, 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sarah "Sadie" Carolina Conway Long Patterson. Mineral Wells Index (June 24, 1971). Retrieved on December 26, 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 David Griffin, Rankin Cemetery listings. Retrieved on April 4, 2014.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Paul Patterson, March 16, 2008. The Odessa American. Retrieved on April 3, 2014.
  7. Elmer Kelton exhibit, Museum of the Desert Southwest, Crane, Texas.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Gary Cutrer (September 1, 2009). Kelton Rides on Up the Trail. Ranch Magazine. Retrieved on April 5, 2014.
  9. (1976; 242 pp.; ISBN 0806112808) Crazy Women in the Rafters: Memories of a Texas Boyhood, University of Oklahoma Press. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. Retrieved on April 5, 2014. 
  10. Sam McGoo and Texas Too. Cow Hill Press, 1994, 183 pp.; ISBN 0961771496. Retrieved on April 5, 2014. 
  11. David Whitehead, ELMER KELTON - THE GREATEST WESTERN WRITER OF ALL TIME. Retrieved on April 7, 2014.
  12. Backfire Trail. Cow Hill Press, 1999; ISBN 1887743049. Retrieved on April 5, 2014. 
  13. Pecos River Pilgrim's Poems I. Cow Hill Press, ISBN 0961771410. Retrieved on April 5, 2014. 
  14. Marjorie Vincent Mixon. Retrieved on April 4, 2014.
  15. Zora Gwendolyn Patterson Shaw. Midland Reporter-Telegram (August 31, 2012). Retrieved on April 7, 2014.
  16. Glenn Justice, American Cowboy (December/January 2009)
  17. Crane County Library: Who We Are. Retrieved on April 7, 2014.