Gene Paterson | 1937-2016

Gene Paterson left us Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 after a short illness. His passing was peaceful. He was at home with his sons, listening to his favorite Paul Simon album.

Gene was born Aug. 3, 1937 in St. Helens, Oregon. He graduated high school in St. Helens and then graduated from Willamette University, where he played on the golf team and was a senior scholar in history. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1961.

Education was important to Gene. He completed postgraduate work at Portland State University, and the University of Exeter in England. Gene taught social studies for 32 years in the Bellevue School District and his students respected and loved him.

Gene, along with islander Roger Loring, was one of the original National Park Service rangers on San Juan Island. During his summers off from teaching, he worked in the park by day and fished for salmon on his gillnetter at night. Gene liked to carve and he experimented with old European and Northwest Coast designs. Gene also loved to collect and work on boats.

Gene retired to the house he built, with the help of Wade Sundstrom, on the west side of San Juan Island overlooking Haro Strait. He had many friends on the island. Those who frequented the thrift store and his neighbors, especially, experienced his witty acerbic sense of humor and caring for all.

Gene is survived by Midge, his former spouse and life-friend of 58 years, their sons Andy and Toby (Toby’s wife Tracy), grandchildren Sam, Wren and Avi, his sister Betty, and brother Jim.

We love you Dad, Gene, Gopi, Iron Man. You will be missed. Your legacy of creativity, compassion and love will be fondly remembered by all those whose lives you touched.