Thomas Dale Patterson, retired USAF Master Sergeant, was born (June 20, 1955-January 28, 2022) to Lucile Kitchen and Bluford Cain Patterson arriving into this world bottom first, which could be said set a lifetime pattern of being an exception to the usual and defying expectations.

He was an adorable baby, an adored son and brother who grew to be a rare sort of man. An adored husband, father, papaw and more. All these roles and all of these loves are not rare but Thomas Dale really was something else too: both profound and profoundly funny, fun yet responsible, courageous and firm but tender feeling, passionate about nature, yet greatly valuing human life. He wasn’t perfect but he stuck it out in life through good times and really bad. He did what he did for love’s sake- writing poetry, walking the woods, rescuing turtles and snakes as they crossed the road, flying off to see the world, defending our country, fathering children, making a home and fighting to live.

He liked to root for the other team, talk in silly voices and joke. He warmed the car up for his mother on cold mornings, when he was young. All grown, he ordered heated seats for his wife. He could tell you the names both Latin and common of many species, especially reptiles. He could make the grumpy smile and both stranger and friend heartily laugh.

He taught his children to “growl at the pain”, how to get through life, sickness and death, the grace of humility and the coping mechanism of humor. He cried watching Bambi and listening to music, which showed you can be really tough and still tear up. And it might not cut it or be easy to say – but saying I’m sorry, sincerely, is important.

He was a living example of a long haul walk of faith, which in the end didn’t always mean a lot of walking. Doubting and darkness don’t win. He showed the strength of Christ likeness, especially in his love for Leoncia. Despite wanting to at times, he never gave up and he never gave in; M.S. didn’t win.

His memory will be a blessing. Although by his passing we will cry in the coming days, as we miss him, we will smile. Thomas has gone home to be with the Lord, after many years of making us all laugh.

Preceded in death by his parents and many dear hearts awaiting us in heaven.

Survivors include his high school sweetheart & wife Leoncia Patterson, beloved sisters Linda Carlson, Laurella Fuller, Vicki Atherton and Robin Mann, 7 children and their loved ones Olivia Anne Patterson, Aimee (Jeff) Shafer, Leslie (Paul) Patterson, Nolan (Nikki) Patterson, Joel (Didi) Patterson, Kelly (Zak) McCreery, Charles (Sarah) Patterson, grandchildren: Peter Miller, Elizabeth (John) Shatto, Grace Shafer, Sonja Shafer, Molly McCreery, Matilda McCreery, Caspian Patterson and one great grand baby on the way.

In Lieu of flowers: Love each other, talk to Jesus and donate to Birthright or your local crisis pregnancy center.