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"Mr. Arlington" 1929-2009

Harold E. Patterson 1929-2009

“...you see that girl over there? I’m going to marry her... you don’t even know her name... but I will before night”[1] After two months of dating, “Mr. Arlington” did just that. It’s a story as old as time, boy sees girl, boy knows from that minute the girl is the love of his life. Lucky for them, they got their happily ever after.


The Fall of 1929 began the worst economic downturn many had ever seen. The stock market crashed, people were without food, water, and jobs. It was quite a devastating period but also quite a time to be alive. Arlington, Texas was no exception, it was founded in 1876 on the Texas and Pacific Railway. The town grew even in the time leading up to what became known as the Great Depression. By 1910, Arlington had a water system, telephones, a public school system, an electric plant and natural gas lines.[2] By 1925, just a few years before the devastation hit, Arlington had a population of a little over 3,000.[3] While many were trying to make ends meet and provide for their loved ones one family in particular was experiencing all of the above and had just brought their fourteenth child into the world. Harold Eugene Patterson was born March 27, 1929 in Arlington, Texas to William Thomas and Mary Jane Shelton Patterson. He was the youngest of fourteen children born to the couple.[4]



Figure 1: Patterson’s parents with their sons. Front row: William T, WT, Harold, and Mary Jane Patterson. Back row: Carl, Leslie, Vernon, Floyd, and Olin. (Early 1930s). Image courtesy of Ancestry.[5]



Figure 2: Patterson’s parents with their daughters. Front row: William T, Mary Elizabeth, and Mary Jane Patterson. Back row: Berta Wilson, Elsie “Sis”, Elsie (England) Patterson wife of Leslie, Dorothy, Edith wife of Vernon, and Hazel. (Early 1930s). Image and caption courtesy of Ancestry.[6]

Now, before I jump into the story and life of Harold Eugene Patterson, I want to take a step back and discuss a couple of the men who came before him.


Patterson’s grandfather, James Henry was born August 8, 1858 in Lincoln County, Tennessee. He married Nancy Lodema Dameron March 30, 1881 at the age of twenty and together they had six children.[7] By 1900, they settled in Arlington, Texas. Eighteen years later, James died April 8, 1918 suddenly after having been suffering from high blood pressure for sometime.[8]


Patterson’s father, William Thomas was born March 4, 1884 in Tennessee. At the time of his relocation to Texas he was in his early teen years. On October 19, 1902, he married Mary Jane Shelton in Tarrant County. In 1904, he became active in the Presbyterian church and remained active throughout his life. On September 12, 1918, William registered for the World War I Draft. At the time of registration, he was a medium height, medium built self-employed farmer with brown eyes and black hair.[9] At some point, he served as Arlington Constable.[10]



Figure 3: William Patterson’s gun from when he served as Constable. According to his great grandchild, Casey, it was an Iver Johnson .32 with two notches. Image courtesy of Ancestry[11]

Harold E. Patterson lived in Arlington his entire life. His father died from Alkalosis due to partial gastric resection when he was only eight years old.[12] It has been said that his funeral was the largest one in Arlington up until that time.[13] Patterson made the decision to leave school in the eleventh grade to help support his mother and siblings. According to the 1940 Census, three years after the loss of his father, he resided with his mother and four siblings.[14] One older sister, eighteen-year-old Dorothy, worked as a clerk in a retail/dry goods store while the others did not have a noted occupation.[15] He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1948-1950 and then returned to his home in Arlington to be with his family.[16] On July 31, 1949 at the age of twenty, Patterson married the love of his life, Frances Louise English in Parker County, Texas. Together, they had three children.



Figure 4: Harold Eugene and Frances Lousie English Patterson. No date given. Image courtesy of Ancestry.[17]

Relatively early on in his working life, Patterson had a successful banking career. He chose banking over milking cows on his father-in-laws dairy farm.[18] It began when he accepted a teller position at the First National Bank in Grand Prairie. He was one of the original officers of First National after it was chartered in 1952.[19] He served as vice president for nearly eleven years. He served as president of First National from February 1964 until March 1974. Following his service at First National, he served as resident at Security State Bank of Fort Worth. In 1963, he became president of Arlington National Bank. In 1976, he served as president of Central National Bank, a new bank which opened in Arlington June 9, 1975.[20] Patterson was president of four different banks in his lifetime, two of which he started for the better of the community.



Figure 5: Newspaper clipping from February 20, 1972 issue of Arlington Daily News. Picture in bottom right is caption as follows: “Arlington National Bank--- Officers of Arlington National Bank, located at 1600 New York Avenue, are (left to right) Bob Stone, vice president; Bob Dorsey, assistant vice president; Harold E. Patterson, president; Eddie Saylors, assistant vice president and cashier; and Mrs. Doris Manor, assistant cashier.” Image courtesy of Arlington Daily News and Ancestry.[21]

Patterson was known as “Mr. Arlington” for many reasons. His love and devotion to the city and its people ran deep. His principal political theme was unity.[22] He united citizens and politicians. He was not one for turmoil. He did his best to understand and meet the needs of those around him. He was first elected to the Arlington City Council in 1966. He became Mayor Pro Tem in 1977. In 1983, he was elected Mayor of Arlington.[23] He served four years as mayor ending his term April 4, 1987. He served at a time when Arlington was expanding and growing at a high and fast rate. Patterson was known as progressive, while mayor he implemented fluoridation of the city’s water supply which improved the dental health of the community.[24] According to Dr. Robert Cluck, past Arlington mayor, Mr. Patterson will stand out as one of Arlington’s greatest mayors”.[25]



Figure 6: Arlington City Council 1973-1974. Pictured: RG Alexander, Martha Walker, SJ Stovall, Edwin J. Daniel, Herman Veselka, Tom J. Vandergriff, Stanley E. Wilkes Jr., Donald C. Maner, Ralph Shelton, And Harold Patterson. Image courtesy of Ancestry.[26]

Patterson was active in the Arlington community his entire life. He was very civic minded. Patterson was recognized as an Outstanding Young Man of Arlington in 1962 and Citizen of the Year. in 1966. He served on several boards and was active in several organizations such as the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Arlington Boys Club, Lions Club, Education Advisory board for Arlington Independent School District, Arlington Parks and Recreation, Arlington Community Hospital and the Tarrant County Appraisal board.[27] The Harold Patterson Sports Complex located on West Bardin Road in Arlington is named in his honor. In 1992, at the age of sixty-three, Patterson completed his GED, fulfilling a promise he made back when he was seventeen to his mother. After having completed his own education, he served as a GED spokesperson encouraging others that it’s never too late.


Patterson continued a legacy of active involvement in a variety of business and civic activities until his death on March 20, 2009 at the age of seventy-nine.[28] He is buried at the Old Arlington Cemetery Complex at 801 S. Mary Street. Harold Patterson was known for his service and devotion to his faith, community, and nation. “Arlington lost a true supporter and key contributor to the quality of life in our community”.[29] Patterson truly was Mr. Arlington, he was civic minded but even more than that he was a family man. A man who ultimately retired from all he did because he loved his family more than he loved being mayor. He lived and breathed Arlington. To date, he is missed by many, he is one Arlington will never forget.

Primary Sources

“U.S., Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2013, https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2272/33154_B06184300728/30114835?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/167206224/person/142170341758/facts/citation/582238215026/edit/record.

“U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.” Ancestry.com. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005. https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6482/005153643_03778/16993193?backurl=https:/ /www.ancestry.com/familytree/person/tree/167206224/person/142170341758/facts/citati on/582238215415/edit/record.

Census Record(s)

Sixteenth Census of the United States (1940), Arlington, Tarrant, Texas, Schedule 1.


Newspapers

“Death of J.H. Patterson”. Arlington Journal. April 12, 1918.

“Stetler Appoints Vice President” Arlington Daily News. May 16, 1972.

“Candidates File for Council”. Arlington Daily News. February 27, 1976.

“Patterson Passes Torch to New Mayor.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram. April 15, 1987.

“Harold E. Patterson 1929-2009. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. March 21, 2009.

“Former Mayor Known as Mr. Arlington.” Dallas News. March 23, 2009.

Images

Please see the footnotes and image captions for the link to photos. All photos used in this piece came from Ancestry or Newspapers.com.

Secondary Sources

Arlington Texas. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hja13

“Hall of Mayors,” City of Arlington, City of Arlington, Accessed June 28, 2020, https://www.arlingtontx.gov/residents/about_arlington/history_of_arlington/hall_of_mayors.

“Harold Eugene Patterson,” FindaGrave. Accessed June 28, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/33726157/harold-eugene-patterson

Special thank you to members of the Patterson family who assisted some of the information in this piece. I am forever grateful to be able to preserve some history for your family and many others.

[1] “Former Mayor Known as Mr. Arlington”.Dallas News. March 23, 2009. The opening is an excerpt of a newspaper article where Mrs. Patterson recalled a memory with her dear husband Harold. Their first encounter was a time when he was sacking groceries back in 1949. [2] Arlington Texas https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hja13 [3] Arlington Texas https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hja13 [4] “Harold Eugene Patterson,” FindaGrave. Accessed June 28, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/33726157/harold-eugene-patterson [5] https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/7469032/person/-1087129814/story Ancestry credits the above image as being courtesy of Merle Patterson Sparks. [6] Ancestry credits the above image as being courtesy of Merle Patterson Sparks. https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/7469032/person/-1087129804/media/7de99205-dcc4-4141-a603-2c4d6f4f963e?_phsrc=HBM82&usePUBJs=true [7] https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/7469032/person/-1087129812/facts Ancestry Timeline for J.H. [8] “Death of J.H. Patterson”. Arlington Journal. April 12, 1918. [9] “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.” Ancestry.com. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005. https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6482/005153643_03778/16993193?backurl=https:/ /www.ancestry.com/familytree/person/tree/167206224/person/142170341758/facts/citati on/582238215415/edit/record. [10]https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/7469032/person/-1087129804/media/833f4665-67c3-4fc1-abaa-d702ff6e5d46?_phsrc=HBM82&usePUBJs=true [11]https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/7469032/person/-1087129804/media/833f4665-67c3-4fc1-abaa-d702ff6e5d46?_phsrc=HBM82&usePUBJs=true [12] “U.S., Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2013, https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2272/33154_B06184300728/30114835?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/167206224/person/142170341758/facts/citation/582238215026/edit/record. [13]https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/7469032/person/-1087129804/media/833f4665-67c3-4fc1-abaa-d702ff6e5d46?_phsrc=HBM84&usePUBJs=true [14] Sixteenth Census of the United States (1940), Arlington, Tarrant, Texas, Schedule 1. [15] Sixteenth Census of the United States (1940), Arlington, Tarrant, Texas, Schedule 1. [16] “Harold E. Patterson 1929-2009. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. March 21, 2009. [17] https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/7469032/person/-1087129814/story [18] Shortly after marrying, he started working on the dairy farm but did not like it, so when he was offered a position as a teller, he took it. [19] “Stetler Appoints Vice President” Arlington Daily News. May 16, 1972. [20] “Candidates File for Council”. Arlington Daily News. February 27, 1976. [21]https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/170003657/person/292208287186/media/2b83a3d5-6093-4048-abba-69e7f610d30e?_phsrc=OZp1&usePUBJs=true [22] “Hall of Mayors,” City of Arlington, City of Arlington, Accessed June 28, 2020, https://www.arlingtontx.gov/residents/about_arlington/history_of_arlington/hall_of_mayors. [23] “Hall of Mayors,” City of Arlington, City of Arlington, Accessed June 28, 2020, https://www.arlingtontx.gov/residents/about_arlington/history_of_arlington/hall_of_mayors. [24] “Former Mayor Known as Mr. Arlington.” Dallas News. March 23, 2009. [25] “Former Mayor Known as Mr. Arlington.” Dallas News. March 23, 2009. [26]https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/170003657/person/292208287186/media/b6883e33-0456-4ce8-91ca-6939a4feac59?_phsrc=OZp1&usePUBJs=true [27] It is quite possible an organization or two has been neglected. Patterson was a man with a heart for service any way and anywhere he could. [28] “Hall of Mayors,” City of Arlington, City of Arlington, Accessed June 28, 2020, https://www.arlingtontx.gov/residents/about_arlington/history_of_arlington/hall_of_mayors. [29] Direct quotation from past mayor Dr. Robert Cluck

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