Code Talker David Patterson passes

By Donovan Quintero and Cindy Yurth
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK

Portrait

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
Navajo Code Talker David Patterson, Sr., looks on during Navajo Code Talker Day on Aug. 13, 2016, in Window Rock. Patterson passed on early Sunday morning, said his son, Pat Patterson. He was 94.

Pat Patterson won’t be able to pick up a bowling ball for a while.

“It’s going to be hard, because that was our thing,” said Patterson of himself and his father, Code Talker David E. Patterson, who passed away Sunday at the age of 94. Pat Patterson said his father bowled up until May, when his health started to decline, competing in Native American tournaments around the country.

“We had it on our bucket list to bowl at every center in New Mexico,” Pat said. “I’d say we got about two-thirds of them.”

Patterson’s funeral will be today (Thursday) at 11 a.m. at Christ the King Catholic Church in Shiprock.

The Navajo-Hopi Honor Riders will escort the casket from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, where Patterson was residing at the time of his death, to Shiprock. Burial will be in the Shiprock Community Cemetery. Patterson died of pneumonia after being hospitalized for a fall last month. He was Tachiinii, born for Kinlichii’nii.

Pat Patterson remembers his father as a “funny guy” with a vibrant intellect that stayed sharp into his later years. His work as a Code Talker led to a lifelong interest in languages.

“Every time he met a person from a different country, he would try to converse with them in their language,” Pat recalled. “Every morning when he had his coffee, he would say, ‘Mmm, coffee. That’s ‘cafe’ in Spanish.”

Although Paterson, along with the other Code Talkers, was awarded the Silver Congressional Medal of Honor in 2001, that was not his proudest moment, according to his son. That occurred in 2013 when he was selected as one of 30 veterans to be honored at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in New York City.

Patterson represented his favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.


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