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R. A. Patterson, chemist-biologist

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jan• 08•16

For many years in the early 20th century, Raymond A. Patterson was about a third of the science faculty at the college.

Professor Rick Patterson

Professor Rick Patterson

A Virginia native and a 1916 Wofford graduate, Rick Patterson studied for his MA at Wofford before he served in the Army during World War I. After a few years of teaching in a local high school, he joined the Wofford faculty as a chemistry lab instructor in the early 1920s. In 1927, he joined the faculty full time as both an instructor of chemistry and French. I guess faculty performed a lot of different duties in those days.

Gradually, Professor Patterson moved into teaching only chemistry and biology, and he, along with Dr. Coleman B. Waller and Professor Charles S. Pettis, taught virtually all of the sciences. There really wasn’t a separate biology department until the late 1940s, so while he was primarily a chemist, Patterson, along with Waller, taught biology as well. That’s the reason that for many years, the Wofford biology department award was the R. A. Patterson award.

In 1949, with postwar growth in the student body and faculty, the college hired Dr. Ray Leonard to build a biology department, and Professor Patterson thus devoted himself to chemistry after that point. From 1946-59, he was the chairman of the chemistry department, and retired in 1966.

While serving on the faculty, Professor Patterson also served as a bacteriologist and milk and water analyst for the Spartanburg Health Department, and also was active in the American Chemical Society’s South Carolina and Western Carolina sections. He was elected an alumni member of Phi Beta Kappa in 1950.
One note when he retired – his home on Lake Lanier in Tryon often served as the location for the annual faculty picnic. So, in a way, Rick Patterson might be the grandfather of the old annual faculty-staff retreat (which is itself no more).

Rick Patterson continued to live in Spartanburg until his death in 1972.

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