Friday, September 21, 2007

Nick Patterson laid to rest

Sgt. Nicholas Patterson, 24, who died in Iraq Sept. 10, probably would have been embarrassed by all the honors paid him Wednesday.

At a funeral service at Rochester High School, Patterson was remembered time and again as humble, human and humane. Hundreds of friends, family and community members turned out to respectfully remember a native son.

Patterson was killed after a raid in western Baghdad, when the vehicle he was riding in blew a tire and plunged 30 feet from an overpass. Six other soldiers were killed, and 10 were wounded in the accident.

Hundreds of people stood on corners and curbs in downtown Rochester, hands over their hearts or holding American flags, as Patterson's body was escorted to the funeral service, then to its final resting place at Akron Cemetery.

The cortege passed under a giant American flag downtown.

Inside the high school, dozens of floral tributes lined the hallway to the gymnasium. A quilt was placed on a table for friends to sign. Several easels with dozens of pictures of Patterson throughout the years put a young face on the sorrow of the day.

A montage of pictures depicting Patterson's life in Rochester, as a young boy up through his high school years playing baseball and basketball with the Rochester Zebras, and shots of him with wife and son, Jayme and Reilley, respectively, were shown on a large screen placed at one end inside the gymnasium while music that included John Lennon's "Imagine" created wistful moments.

Patterson's casket was borne by his military brothers-in-arms. Patterson was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. He was on his second tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom when he died. He had served in the Army since enlisting on May 18, 2004.

Representatives from the governor's and state legislative offices, as well as the U.S. military, had condolences to share with the family, but words from the Rev. Steve Fleck showed how personal the loss truly is to all who knew and loved Patterson.

"He had a tough exterior and a tender heart," Fleck told the assembled mourners. He talked of the mortal conflicts the young Patterson had attempted to resolve, and of the soldier's determination to "be the best he could be" or "nothing at all."

"We live in a broken world," Fleck said, which is far from that promised by God, and Patterson died trying to mend it.

The minister said Patterson was a man who strove to be the kind of human being God wants us all to be, passionate, caring and always striving to be better, do more.

Patterson's widow, the former Jayme Saner of Akron, told the crowd that she was "blessed" to have had him in her life. She said through tears that she and her late husband had been luckier than most because, before he died, "We left nothing unsaid."

She explained that in daily e-mails, telephone calls or video-cam communications, they each ended their talk with "I love you."

Patterson was born Feb. 26, 1983. He was the son of James and Virginia Patterson of Rochester, and Jane and Scott Holmes of Warsaw, all of whom survive. Additional survivors include a stepbrother, Kyle McLochlin of Rochester, and a sister, Tai (Patterson) Johnson of Mishawaka; his grandparents, Charles and Mollie Patterson of Seabring, Fla., Larry Holmes of Alma, Mich., and Betty Hewett of Mishawaka. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Harold and Kathryn Hoge and Mildred Holmes.

A trust fund has been established at 1st Source Bank of Rochester for Patterson's 4-year-old son. Memorials may be sent in care of the Reilley Patterson Trust Fund to any 1st Source Bank location.

From the South Bend Tribune

Related Link:
Nick Patterson remembered

Related Link:
Nicholas Patterson reported killed in Iraq