Cover photo for Perry Patterson's Obituary
Perry Patterson Profile Photo
1926 Perry 2015

Perry Patterson

August 31, 1926 — July 29, 2015

Perry passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his family, four weeks shy of his 89th birthday. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Mary Alice (Crabill) Patterson, Sioux City, IA; his sister Juliann Pulliam, Arvada, CO; two sons, Charles Jacob Patterson and Daniel Alexander Patterson, his wife, Eleanor Ruth May-Patterson, Sioux City, IA; four grandchildren, Angela Marie Patterson, Sioux Falls, SD; Seth Alexander May-Patterson, Seattle, WA; Claire Eleanor May-Patterson, Sioux City, IA; and John Merdink Patterson, Brookings, SD; brother-in-law, Wallace Pulliam, Arvada, CO; a niece, Edna Louise Hendershot, her husband, Mike Hendershot, Westminster, CO; two nephews, Richard Roscoe Pulliam, his wife, Suzette Pulliam, Bennett, CO, and Charles Harvey Pulliam, his wife, Brittany Pulliam, Redmond, WA; two grand nieces Audrey Marie Pulliam, Bennett, CO, and Margaret Rose Pulliam, Redmond, WA; and two grand nephews, Alexander Patrick Pulliam, and Benjamin Thomas Pulliam, Bennett, CO. Preceding him in death were his parents, Charles Irwin Patterson and Inez Fern (Slagg) Patterson, Bemidji, MN; his brother Dr. Charles Darold Patterson, Baton Rouge, LA, and his daughter-in-law Julie Grace (Merdink) Patterson, Sioux Falls, SD. Perrys passion for the arts was pursued early during his youth as his parents and brother moved through Bismarck, ND; Mitchell, SD; Ellendale, ND; and settled in Bemidji in the late 1930s, following his pas career with Ottertail Power Company. As a youngster, he constructed the Empress Theatre from cardboard behind which he rolled through and narrated his hand crafted dramatic stories, illustrated in color with original dialogue crafted with ink on specially cut rolls of butcher paper, only charging small rocks for admission! Perry studied, created and shared his art with dozens of landscape water color paintings, and performed and directed in theatres throughout his life, immersing himself in the new building at Bemidji High School, including trombone in the Marching Band, then at Bemidji State Teachers College (BSU), including his gregarious second tenor membership with the Sour Dough Quartet, graduating in 1948 majoring in both Art and Theatre. From 1949-1959, he continued to craft his skills in acting, directing, set & costume design and construction by teaching at Sioux Falls College (USF), studying two years at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, teaching at Iowa State while earning his masters degree, then University of Iowa, returning to SFC in 1960 until his retirement in 1991. He earned his Ph.D. in Theatre at University of Denver in 1966. He designed the theatre facilities for the Jeschke Fine Arts Center. Perry reached his goal to make costumes for the five major costuming periods during his direction of 100 collegiate productions. Perry fell in love at first sight with Mary Alice in 1949, marrying in 1954 in Ames. They sang beautiful duets for decades on Sunday mornings, special events, and on stage as Ko-Ko and Katisha in The Mikado. He was an enthusiastic husband, father, grandfather, neighbor and humanitarian. He took great pride in his garden, feeding birds and squirrels, entertaining the neighborhood children with yard parties, bicycle riding to work-especially to Sherman Park, announcing at Sioux Falls swim meets from 1966 through 1985, and photography- filming home 16mm silent movies with handmade titles. Perry was a strong, vocal advocate for peace, equal rights, and educational theatre throughout his life. He actively supported Marys term in the South Dakota House of Representatives and enjoyed his friendships at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church- painting and changing the roadside sign for years. There will be no service. In lieu of gifts or cards, the Dr. Perry Willis Patterson Fund is established at every Wells Fargo Branch, maintained at 2015 South Saint Aubin, Sioux City, IA 51106, account #6329085721. The fund will sponsor annual scholarships for high school graduates pursuing art, music or theatre. Applicants need only have graduated from a high school in or near the nine Midwestern towns where Perry once called home.

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