Our most beloved Michael Alexander Patterson of Bainbridge Island, Washington joined the Communion of Saints on September 25, 2018 after a tenacious and valiant fight against cancer. Born on January 28, 1947, Mike grew up in a large Catholic family in Spokane, Washington with his loving parents, brother and three sisters. As a young boy, he showed drive, determination, a strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit, running multiple paper routes while going to school and serving as an altar boy at daily Mass. At age 13, he joined the Franciscan Seminary in Troutdale, Oregon with friends from his home parish, St. Paschal’s, then left the seminary to finish his high school career at Gonzaga Preparatory (“Prep”) School in Spokane. After completing his undergraduate studies at Gonzaga University in Spokane, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1969, Mike spent a brief period of time before law school working for United Parcel Service in New York City where he met his future wife, Emma. She had immigrated to Brooklyn from the Philippines and was working as a nurse at the time. The Vietnam War draft lottery was active during this time, so Mike enlisted in the Army, completing 6 months of active basic training followed by a few years in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Mike worked his way through law school at the University of Notre Dame, where he earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1972, then earned a Master’s of Law at New York University in 1977; all while holding down multiple jobs and studying on little sleep. He also served on the University of Notre Dame Admissions Committee from 1975-1977. Around this time, Mike and Emma welcomed the first two of their five children, their daughters Karen and Kristine “Jamie”. Mike’s professional determination and perseverance paid off, as he was able to launch a stellar legal career as an attorney in New York City. He wanted to provide a better life for his family and move closer to his hometown, so he and Emma decided to relocate to the State of Washington around 1978, living in Seattle’s Mountlake Terrace area for a couple of years before settling on Bainbridge Island in 1980. They had three more children, Kathleen, Kristian, and Kristopher, between 1981 and 1987.
After moving back to Washington, Mike joined a Seattle-based law firm where he quickly made partner and earned a reputation for excellence in high stakes, high-profile litigation. His outstanding career culminated in the founding and successful running of his own law firm, with offices in both Seattle and Portland, where he served as Senior Principal, Senior Shareholder, and President. He was a razor-sharp trial attorney, and his trial experience was unmatched. His Admissions included the United States Supreme Court, New York State, Washington State, and New York State Bar. Michael tried to verdict over 150 cases in both federal and state courts, and argued more than 50 cases in federal and state appellate courts. He represented school districts, cities, counties, fire districts, Catholic archdioceses across the U.S. (including Guam), and many well-known private clients. He published extensively, and frequently presented to national, statewide, and local audiences on a wide variety of sex abuse, litigation, employment, and public entity topics. His internationally recognized expertise was called on for interviews, public speaking engagements, jury selection, mentorship, and service as an expert witness. With his big case experience, Mike was frequently asked to serve as media spokesperson for clients involved in difficult situations. He has been interviewed by ABC, CBS, Dateline and NBC. He earned extensive professional honors and awards, including being voted into the Top 20 Trial Lawyers by Judges in Western Washington, selected as “Super Lawyer” by American Law & Politics, listed in The National Registry of Who’s Who, and recipient of the Washington Association of School Administrators Golden Gavel Award.
Michael used his success, passion, and energy to champion several Catholic education and leadership efforts. He served on the Board of Directors for a number of Catholic organizations including Legatus International, the Magis Institute for Faith & Reason, the Napa Institute, The Spitzer Center, the Nazareth Guild, and the Sacred Story Institute. Mike also served as Founder and President of the Legatus Seattle Chapter, President of the Serra Club, and Chairman of the Archdiocese of Seattle Catholic Fund. He gave significant financial contributions and support over the years to the Fulcrum Foundation, which provides financial assistance to support Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle, to the Harper Cancer Research Institute at the University of Notre Dame to fund colon cancer research, 3W Medical for Women to support health care for pregnant single mothers, and Los Cabos Children’s Foundation of Cabo to promote and fund health programs for children of single parent families in Baja California Sur, Mexico. He served in a number of capacities at Gonzaga University, most notably as Chair of the Board of Trustees and as donor of his namesake Patterson Baseball Complex. Mike served as Director of the building project to construct the current St. Cecilia’s Church on Bainbridge Island, his home parish, and was instrumental in the founding of the church’s parish school. He also helped found Christ Our Hope Church in downtown Seattle. He helped found the Coleman Foundation at O’Dea High School, the alma mater of his two sons, to support full scholarships to 16 students each year based on financial need. He also gave generous contributions and support over the years to support Gonzaga Prep and Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bellevue, the alma mater of his three daughters. His contributions were formally recognized in 2013, when he earned the National Catholic Education Association’s highest honor, the prestigious Elizabeth Ann Seton Award which honors exemplary individuals whose support and service impacts Catholic education and the well-being of our nation’s youth. A highlight of his charitable works, Mike served on the Vatican Bank Reform Committee, and had the honor of having private audiences with both Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis.
Mike’s other charitable works included donating the land and supporting the construction of the Bainbridge Performing Arts building. Their contribution is commemorated with the Michael and Emma Patterson family multi-purpose room, established in 1993.
A true and loyal friend, Mike was known for his generosity and zest for life. He loved to host fun parties and entertain others with his gregarious spirit, funny stories, and infectious laugh. He was the “life of the party”, always looking to connect with others and to help a friend in need. He worked hard and played hard, finding time in his busy schedule to coach his sons’ youth baseball teams. He saw opportunities where others saw challenges. Through perseverance, hard work, and a keen intellect, he was able to use his success as a platform to lift up those around him.
When he wasn’t working, Mike could be found jet-setting on travel adventures with his large family, generously hosting a fine dining experience for family and friends, playing with his grandchildren, laughing with good friends over a fine bottle of wine and cigars, and enjoying some time on the golf course.
He is preceded in death by his parents, James Alexander and Adolphine Theodore “Dolly” (née Guterson) Patterson. He is survived by his devoted wife, Emma, five children, Karen (Joseph Gradilla), Kristine “Jamie” (Aaron De Collibus), Kathleen (Peter Lofgren), Kristian (Jessica Turpin), and Kristopher, eight grandchildren, Aidan and Isabella Gradilla; Emma, Eleanor and Elena De Collibus; Teadora Lofgren; Michael and Taylor Patterson; and his siblings, James “Jim”, Mary, Anne, and Brenda, and a large extended family in the U.S. and Canada. He was deeply loved. His presence and legacy live on in the hearts of his family and friends who love him, their cherished memories, and the generous gifts he gave to better the world around him.
A Catholic Rosary Service will be held on Friday, October 26th at 6:30pm at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. The Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, October 27th at 10:30am at St. James Cathedral, followed by a reception at the O’Dea High School Gym.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Michael Patterson Memorial Fund to support colon cancer treatment and research at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), P.O. Box 19023, Seattle, WA 98109-1023. Donations may be made on-line at https://secure.seattlecca.org/, by mail with checks payable to SCCA with indication that they are in memory of Michael Patterson, or by phone at (206) 606-2070 or (877) 308-3117.