Milestones, Obituaries


John Patterson

CRAFTSBURY – John Patterson, 78, died peacefully on July 14, of complications related to acute myeloid leukemia. In his final hours, John expressed gratitude for a good life. He will be remembered for his devotion to family and friends, for the twinkle in his eye, and for always being kind.
John was born in 1944 in Middletown, Conn., the first child of Herb and Ellen Patterson. He grew up in Durham, Conn., where he was joined by siblings David, Richard, and Amy.
John attended Vermont Academy and the University of Vermont, where he met Barbara Andersen, his first wife and lifelong friend. After graduating from UVM in 1967 John entered the Army as a 2nd lieutenant.
He trained on the NIKE air defense system and later served in Vietnam, where he was stationed in the coastal city of Nha Trang. Many years later, upon returning to Nha Trang, John was amazed by its transformation from a quiet fishing village to a tourism destination with high rise hotels along the beach.
John and Barbara settled in California and in 1975 they welcomed a son, Andrew. Their marriage did not last, and John returned to Connecticut, where he began his career at Durham Manufacturing, a company started by his grandfather in 1922.
John remarried in 1981, and settled in Durham with his wife, Melinda, where they built a timber-frame home down the street from John’s parents. Their son Tim was born in 1982, followed by Luke in 1984. The stones in the wall that John built by hand at the house in Durham have not shifted an inch in the last three decades.
In 1994 John and Melinda moved to Craftsbury, where he enjoyed splitting wood, swimming in Duck Pond, and playing golf with friends at Mountain View Country Club. Just a few years ago they moved back to Connecticut, settling in Essex, a few doors down from the church where they were married.
Throughout life, John could always be relied upon, and he took great care to meet the needs of others. John also thought deeply about how he wanted to walk in the world. Often, he chose to walk barefoot, treating every step as a meditation, whether by the pond in Craftsbury, on the path to the hot springs of Esalen, overlooking the Pacific in Big Sur, or on the winding donkey trails and coral outcrops of Salt Cay, the small Caribbean island where John spent years renovating a ruin into his beloved Salt House. He was happiest when fully immersed in physical work, whether transplanting Christmas trees, digging out old cellar holes, or deconstructing timber frame barns.
Perhaps because of the careful effort John took to reconcile his sense of duty and his own truths, he made clear to his sons that they were free to choose their own way. He embodied the teaching of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who wrote: “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”
In addition to his first and second wives, three sons, and three siblings, John is survived by his grandchildren: Reese, Brynn, and Paige, of Newport Beach, Calif., and Avela and Ellis of Richmond.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Craftsbury Common Village Improvement Society, P.O. Box 97, Craftsbury Common, VT 05827.

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