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2012-12-12 / Letters

A Legend in His Own Time

I first heard about Dr. Patton while visiting a relative, who was a patient, in the Gordon-Patton hospital and Dr. Patton was the attending physician. My extended family held him in very high esteem. To them he was a miracle healer who knew not only what “ailed” them but he also knew exactly what to prescribe to cure them.

The way folks from these parts talked about him I thought that he had to be older than dirt and at least 10 feet tall. So the image that popped in my head when Dr Ira’s name was mentioned was a Paul Bunyan type figure, bigger than life.

In 1976 my family and I moved to Oneonta and he became our family doctor. I remember thinking the first time that I saw him in person that they must have sent in his young assistant. This couldn’t be him because he was certainly not an old man, this person standing before me was only in his mid 50s, and not nearly as big physically as I imagined that he would be.

Anyone who ever met Dr. Ira Patton has a story. He had a great sense of humor. The late Arvil Horsely, owner of a radio and television repair shop in “Tin Town,” told this story, “One afternoon I was out on the sidewalk in front of my shop when Dr. Patton walked by. I asked him, ‘Doc, is that all you’ve got to do?’ He said that Dr. Patton only grunted and kept on walking.” Arvil said, “The next morning about 3 AM my phone rang and I answered, ‘Hello,’ the deep voice on the other end said, ‘Arvil is that all you’ve got to do?’ ”

In the early 90s, Glenda and I were serving a Church in Baumholder, Germany. It was a couple of days before Christmas and most all our people had gone out of town for the holidays. We were feeling melancholy, sad and so alone. I went to the post office to check the mail and there was only one letter and it was from the Heart Foundation. I thought it was one of those letters soliciting funds and I almost tossed it into the trash. But over there any mail from home was good mail. So, I opened it and it said that a donation had been made in our name to the Heart Foundation. The donors were Dr. Ira and Darlene Patton. That changed our whole attitude and greatly lifted our spirits.

Dr. Ira and Darlene also helped us financially during my seminary days. On one occasion I received a letter from Dr. Patton with a check designated for my seminary education. That letter came at the beginning of a semester and everyone knows how expensive it is when tuition and fees have to be paid and new books have to be purchased. That money went a long way to defray my expenses.

One thing happened that caused Dr. Ira much grief, as it does all the doctors I know, was when some notable person(s) who ought to know better, questioned their work ethic. Dr Ira poured out his heart to me and I sensed the deep hurt that he was feeling. You see, for so many years he and just a handful of Doctors had been on call 24/7 keeping this county going, health-wise. Everyone knew that he had worked tirelessly night and day for all those many years without proper rest and then for someone to have the audacity to challenge his work ethic. That deeply hurt him.

It doesn’t seem like Dr. Patton has been gone 10 years. I miss him not only as a physician but also as a cherished friend. He was, to me, bigger than life and a real living legend.

Dan Sims


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