Obituary for J.W. “Bill” Patterson, Jr.

McAllen, Texas – J.W. “Bill” Patterson, Jr., 70, passed away at the McAllen Medical Center on July 9, 1998, after a brief illness. 

Born in Hillsboro on August 28, 1918, he was the first of three children of Martha and J.W. “Joe” Patterson. He graduated from Hillsboro High school as valedictorian of his class. He and Dave O’Brien were the two quarterback/halfbacks on the first Coach’s All-Star game in Dallas in 1935. 

He went to Baylor University on an athletic scholarship where he lettered in football, baseball, and track before earning a bachelor’s degree in 1939 and a law degree in 1942. He was All-Southwest Conference in football in 1937 and All-Southwest Conference and All-American in 1939. He was invited to play in the East-West Shrine game in San Francisco in 1939, and was named the game’s most valuable player. 

While in law school at Baylor and University of Texas, he played professional football in the NFL with the Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers before entering the Navy, where he was an officer in the Naval Reserve for four years. He was on the aircraft carrier the Gambier Bay, sunk by the Japanese in the Pacific campaign. He was the youngest president of the Baylor Ex-students Association and serviced two separate terms on the Baylor University Board of Trustees. 

In 1942, he married Betty Burkhart of Alamo, and in 1946 they returned to McAllen, where he began a distinguished career in the practice of law. Active in civic affairs, he served three years as president of the Rio Grande Council of Boy Scouts of America, was president of the Lions Club and was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 

Bill was inducted into the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame in 1987, the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in 1988, the Baylor Lettermans Hall of Fame in 1962, and the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. 

He had been active in the First Baptist Church since 1946, where he served on the Board of Deacons, and taught an adult Sunday School class until his entry into the hospital. 

He was devoted to his family and had been a mentor to many through the years. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Harry W. Pattterson of Houston. Surviving him, in addition to his wife of 56 years Betty, are a son J.W. “Joe” Patterson III of Mission, two daughters, Dians (Eddie) Marburger of Mission and Debbie (Randy) Davis of Arlington, five grandchildren, and a sister, Elizabeth Young of McAllen.