âWhen you think of Cal and all the good things in his life, it lifts your spirits,â says Terry Geddes; Patterson died Wednesday at age 73
In a wake of grief after Cal Patterson’s death, friends, colleagues and family are warmed by the far-reaching rays of his legacy in the communities of Collingwood and Wasaga Beach.
Patterson died on Wednesday August 4. He was 73 years old.
A former mayor of Wasaga Beach, a volunteer and a friendly neighbor, Patterson has led a life of public service.
Patterson spent more than two decades on Wasaga Beach Council, including two terms as councilor, two as deputy mayor and three terms as mayor. He was also elected Reeve of Simcoe County during his last term as mayor.
As a municipal leader, Patterson was involved in the decisions that led to Wasaga’s first municipal transit system and the construction of the Wasaga Beach RecPlex.
âCal leaves a remarkable legacy due to his long career in public service,â Wasaga Beach Mayor Nina Bifolchi said in a city press release. âOur community benefits every day from the vision that Cal and his colleagues have demonstrated. Cal’s wife, Deb, and the rest of the family can be very proud of the role he played in building our city.
Municipal politician friends Terry Geddes and Doug Garbutt – the two former mayors of Collingwood – not only shared the chain of functions with Patterson, but spent their lives as friends.
“He got into politics for all the right reasons – to do the greater good for others,” said Geddes, who was mayor of Collingwood while Patterson was mayor of Wasaga Beach.
âHe saw this office as a way to help every citizen in the community,â Geddes added. “His visions were for people to cooperate together for the common good.”
But his lofty aspirations never took him far from the ground.
One year, during the Auspicious Guardian’s Golf Tournament, Patterson’s disc sliced ââinto the pond. Patterson, a thrifty accountant, took off his shoes and socks, rolled up his pants, and waded into the pond to retrieve his ball and six others.
âHe was just Mr. Down to Earth,â Geddes said. “When you think of Cal and all the good things in his life, it lifts your spirits a bit.”
It’s these good things that Geddes hopes to form Patterson’s legacy inside and outside the boardroom.
âPeople see him as the mayor and the director, but for those of us who knew him and loved him very much, he was much more involved in terms of community and giving back than most people are. “said Geddes, who had been friends. with Patterson since playing high school football at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. “He got the loyalty and love of everyone he has dealt with.”
Patterson was a volunteer mentor for the Canadian Cancer Society, providing support to cancer patients after his own battles with the disease. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH).
âCal has always been a great supporter of the hospital and the foundation,â said Jory Pritchard-Kerr, President and CEO of the Collingwood G&M Hospital Foundation. âFollowing the lead of his predecessor, Mayor Walter Borthwick, Cal is committed to ensuring that Wasaga Beach makes a very generous annual contribution to the foundation’s annual equipment drives. At that time, Wasaga Beach was the only municipality to offer such support to CGMH.
When Dr Alyssa Boyd decided to start a charity to grant end-of-life wishes to hospice patients in the area, she turned to Patterson for help. She said he thanked her for asking him and that he became the first board member of the Living Wish Foundation.
âHe had a calm and calm demeanor, but when he spoke his words had an impact,â Boyd said. “Several times we have chatted loudly back and forth about a problem for centuries to get Cal to ring with a polite and straightforward solution to whatever we were discussing.”
She said her network and willingness to help was what helped the foundation make one of its earliest and most well-known wishes come true. A woman in a wheelchair wanted to dip her toes in the water at Wasaga Beach one last time. Patterson spoke with the then mayor to arrange a wheelchair ramp that would reach the water’s edge. Then he issued a parking pass and a water-friendly wheelchair.
âThe icing on the cake was what marked him as a true beach connoisseur – he arranged for everyone to have free ice cream at Grandma’s Beach Treats,â Boyd said. “No day at the beach is complete without one.”
Patterson has received numerous accolades for his volunteer and supportive work, including the Wasaga Beach Citizen of the Year Award, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Order of Wasaga Beach. He was also a member of the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow.
Through all of Patterson’s decades of service and even before, Garbutt called him a friend.
âWe were basically like brothers,â Garbutt said. “We have kept this relationship our entire life.”
Garbutt had a political career similar to Patterson’s, and the two were childhood friends and neighbors who grew up on Ninth Street in Collingwood. Both eventually made careers in manufacturing, with Patterson working in the finance side of the company.
âWe used to play hockey a lot together. Cal was a little shorter than some of us, but he was one of the toughest guys on the hockey rink that you would want to meet, âGarbutt said.
Although he might have played a difficult game, his appearance was anything but. The former mayor was known to dress well, which started in childhood.
âWhen we were kids his mom would put a press in her blue jeansâ¦ and he kind of followed that,â Garbutt said.
His clean clothes didn’t stop him from working hard, however. Patterson often mowed his elderly neighbor’s lawn.
âAs busy as he was, he would take the time to do it,â Garbutt said.
Garbutt was mowing the lawn when Patterson visited him a few weeks ago to deliver a load of golf balls he discovered while cleaning his basement. Patterson thought Garbutt’s grandchildren would like them for training.
âIf he had something, he would give it to you,â Garbutt said.
Sometimes that something was a shoulder to lean on. The two childhood friends often spoke of tragedies and trials in life.
âWe talked a lot, and when we were done talking we would feel better,â Garbutt recalls. “I will miss him and think about him every day.” He will not be forgotten.
Patterson was married to his wife, Debbie, for over 30 years and the couple had four daughters, one of whom died of cancer. They have five grandchildren.
A condolence book can be signed at Wasaga Beach Town Hall, located at 30 Lewis Street, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm The book is located in the main lobby.
Details of Patterson’s funeral and services have yet to be announced.