Former Maroons team physician and local surgeon passes away
After a long life of hard work, happy retirement and much laughter, general surgeon Donald McIntyre Patterson passed away peacefully at Riverview Gardens on October 13, 2023 with his family by his side.
Don was born in London, Ontario, and graduated from Western University’s Faculty of Medicine before training in General Surgery in Detroit, Michigan. It was there that he met the love of his life, Denise Renier, a nurse at Mount Carmel Mercy Hospital. They married in 1958, settled in Chatham, and had 5 children: Mary Jane, Scott (Lynn), David (Karney), Michael (Paddy), and Tim (Helen). When they came along, Don’s grandchildren were very special to him: Caroline, Thomas, William, Samuel, Katelyn and Cullen.
Don felt keenly the responsibility to provide for his growing family, and that meant long hours at Chatham’s two hospitals, with many late nights on call. It was a grinding schedule, but he made it look easy as he zipped down the halls, white coat flying behind him. He was a positive force in this world with a wonderful sense of humour that brightened every room and cracked up nurses, orderlies and patients alike.
An avid sports fan, Don volunteered as team physician for the Chatham Maroons for over two decades, stitching up players on the spot so they could get back out on the ice. When he retired in 1999 after 40 years of practice, Don continued to work part-time until he was almost 80, performing small procedures he called “lumps and bumps” that freed up the practicing doctors for bigger operations.
Don was an active and effective fundraiser for the hospitals over the years as board member and organizer of the Annual Doctor Appreciation Day and the Annual Pro-Am Golf Tournament. In 2014, he was honoured through the opening of the Dr. Don Patterson Student Learning Centre at the CKHA’s Chatham Campus, a place for medical students to train, collaborate and get to know the community while on rotation in Chatham.
Retirement was well-earned and much enjoyed, with winters at the Olde Hickory golf community in Fort Myers, Florida and summers at the family cottage near Rondeau Park. Don loved nothing more than time with his family at the beach, riding his bike through the park, and giving his grandkids a ride on the lawn mower as he cruised around the cottage property. He enjoyed watching sports on television, and was a member of Maple City Country Club for 60 years, cherishing the lifelong gift of golfing together with family and friends.
As memory loss took hold in his later years, Don was cared for at home by Denny until his stroke on Christmas Day, 2022. Then he came full circle, becoming a resident at Riverview Gardens, the old St. Joseph’s Hospital where he was Chief of Surgery for 25 years.
He was deeply loved, and will be missed with many smiles as we remember all the times he made us laugh.
In lieu of flowers, we invite donations to the Alzheimer Society of Chatham-Kent or Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Foundation, carrying on Don’s legacy of supporting health care in our community.
Visitation will be at the Alexander & Houle Funeral Home, 245 Wellington St. W. Chatham, (519) 352 – 2710 on Wednesday, October 18, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
The funeral mass will be held at Blessed Sacrament Church, 145 Victoria Ave. Chatham where Don was a member for many years, on Thursday, October 19 at 11 a.m. The service will be livestreamed from the church and a link will be provided on the funeral home website. Interment St. Anthony’s Cemetery. On–line condolences may be shared at www.alexanderandhoulefuneralhome.ca.