'Found the good in everyone'

Students, athletes recall Steve Patterson as caring, brilliant

Steve Patterson, a former teacher known for inspiring a love for Science in his students and being a staple at sporting events in Guthrie Center, drew plaudits from the community and beyond last week from former students and admirers. Guthrie Center High School alums and others, in interviews and in hundreds of posts on social media, recalled the beloved teacher’s way of making science interesting and fun -- and Patterson’s years of sitting at the scorers table and his ability to keep an accurate scorebook. 

Patterson, 70, of Guthrie Center, passed away peacefully in his home on April 5, 2017. In recent years he had battled cancer.

“As far as an educator, he was very good, very hands on type of teacher with that kind of content,” Superintendent Steve Smith said of his former biology and chemistry teacher at Guthrie Center High School. When he quit teaching we lost him for a little bit, but once he got back into working with the kids and the school, he was just always here.”

Smith said Patterson, who spent 47 years as Environmental Health Officer for Guthrie, Cass, Audubon and Adair counties, started volunteering to announce softball games during the summer months, and his role there soon carried into volleyball season and later basketball.

“He will be a person we will struggle to replace,” Smith said. “He had a passion to do the extra things. He was on top of things, you didn’t have to every year, invite him and ask him, he just did it.”

One of the students Patterson had early in his career was Cindy (Hansen) Slaybaugh, who went on to be a nurse.

“Mr. Patterson was the best biology and chemistry teacher,” she said. “He spent many hours in his classroom -- before and after school. I wouldn’t be the nurse I am today without his guidance and teaching skills.”

Cindy McCarty, Director of Timber Creek Therapies, and the Founder of Timber Creek Charities in Guthrie Center, had Patterson as a high school chemistry teacher.

“He was one of the best teachers I ever had, and a true environmentalist,” McCarty said.

Science was not a favorite subject for Mary Fogleman, but after taking biology with Patterson as a sophomore in high school, she signed up for Field Biology and Individualized Science the following year.

“The primary reason was that Mr. Patterson made science interesting and fun,” she said. “Guthrie Center High School would not have been the same without him.”

John Jones, head volleyball coach at Guthrie Center and now Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center said he enjoyed getting to know Patterson, who volunteered hours and hours at the scorers table inside the Guthrie Center High School over the years.

“Steve was a wealth of information and helped the volleyball team win a few games with his excellent score keeping abilities,” Jones said. 

Sydney Danker, a former student-athlete at Guthrie Center, said many alumni student-athletes were sad to hear of Patterson’s passing.

“I can’t remember a game he missed during my volleyball career,” she said. “Always keeping score and being completely content cheering on his town’s youth. He truly was part of our team more than a lot of people realize.”

Kevin Fister, a local on the sports scene in Guthrie Center, whether he’s carrying a scorebook or his camera, started working with Patterson during the 2006 volleyball season.

“He taught me how to keep the scorebook for both volleyball and basketball and that’s something I’ll always be thankful for,” Fister said. “He was someone who was very organized and was quick to make sure that you were going to have everything needed or wanted for each game.”

Fister said Patterson never talked bad about any of the kids or coaches.

“He was always one to find good in everyone,” Fister said. 

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205 State Street (Dropbox)
Guthrie Center, IA 50115

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