Friends to honor ACU professor in memorial service

For Immediate Release
Feb. 29, 2000

Abilene Christian University will have a memorial service for Dr. Tom Patten, professor of psychology, in Moody Coliseum during Chapel at 11a.m. on Thursday.

Patten died Feb. 22 of pancreatic cancer at age 51.

Patten spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy and was a medical corpsman during the Vietnam War. He later earned a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University, then returned to the Navy.

"As a psychologist he continued to serve those who serve America," McKelvain said.

Patten completed his naval career with three years on the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

He retired from the Navy as a lieutenant commander and joined the ACU faculty in 1994.

"He taught and served those who will make a career of serving those with trials in living," McKelvain said.

Patten began serving missionaries through the Robert and Mary Ann Hall Chair of Intercultural Studies. This endowment allowed him to use psychology to care for the well-being of missionaries and their families before and after their time in the mission field.

As a professor Patten was well liked by students. One former student, Chad Scott from Connecticut, remembered Patten's sense of humor in class, as well as how approachable and visible he was at Highland Church of Christ.

"Losing Dr. Patten has created a void, but I can honestly say that I was influenced by him when I was a student at ACU," Scott wrote in a letter that was read at Patten's funeral on Thursday. "Dr. Patten had the qualities of a professor that I would benchmark and emulate for myself if I were ever in a university classroom."

More than a servant, Patten was a mentor.

"He was able to bring out the best in his students and his colleagues," McKelvain said. "He was gentle, fair and very firm in his efforts to have people see their value, their strength and the courage to try their wings."

While Patten was at Annapolis, he counseled a student involved with what became known as the double-e cheating scandal in which students broke the honor code by secretly obtaining copies of a test. The student Patten counseled, Jeff Gantar, came forward to reveal his guilt, although he knew he would be expelled. Patten and Gantar co-wrote the book A Question of Honor telling their story.

McKelvain said his colleague will not be forgotten.

"We will remember most his faith and how it sustained him and his family," he said. "We will remember his gentle, calm and absolutely unyielding integrity. He had the will to make a promise, the heart to keep his promises, and the love and courage to hold us all to the promises that we have made."

Cards and flowers may be sent to 1689 Newcastle Drive, Abilene, TX 79601.

Contributions may be made to The Children's Home of Lubbock, P.O. Box 2824 Lubbock, Texas 79408.



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Last update: Feb. 29, 2000
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