1980 GJ valedictorian, philanthropist dies

A celebration of the life of William J. Patterson, a Grand Junction High School graduate and head of one of the nation’s largest investment partnerships, will be later this month at the California Academy of Sciences.

Patterson was a San Francisco investor and philanthropist who led the effort to revitalize the academy. He died Sept. 24. He was 48.

The son of William R. Patterson, who practiced orthopedic surgery in Grand Junction for 35 years, Patterson was head boy and valedictorian of the Grand Junction High School class of 1980.

He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1984.

He and two partners, John H. Scully and William E. Oberndorf, founded SPO Partners & Co. in 1991, building the firm’s assets from $40 million to more than $8 billion.

“Bill’s extraordinary intelligence, confidence and leadership permeated SPO Partners & Co. from the first day he joined us,” Scully said. “His passion for excellence and hard work, coupled with his warmth and core humanitarian instincts made him truly inspirational to the many he touched. He is, simply stated, irreplaceable.”

As chairman of the board of the California Academy of Sciences, he led the revitalization of the institution, completing its $500 million capital campaign last year to build its new home in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and expand its environmentally based education programs.

Patterson was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute in 2004.

“He was the kind of guy who made connections for life,” said his stepmother, Donna Patterson.


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