Dick Patterson’s true greatness was helping others

Dick Patterson, who served as race director of the Bucks 5K Series for many years, announces 2021 women’s co-Series winners Stephanie Savastano (left) and Katie Kinkead.

      “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

                               –Winston Churchill

      Dick Patterson was one of those rare people who put others first, be it in sports or everyday life.

      Perhaps he realized making others feel special would somehow make the world around him a better place.

      The long-time Doylestown resident passed away on March 24 at age 86 and it was sad news for those who knew him and knew of him.

      An elite athlete himself, Dick gave tirelessly of his time, including many years as president/director of the Bucks 5K Series. Recently, the Series announced it will present the new Dick Patterson Trophy to event winners.

      Here are comments from some of Bucks County’s best athletes and friends of a truly great gentleman.

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      Mike Clarke, 5-time Boston Marathon runner and former high school cross-country coach:

      “Dick was a pillar in the Doylestown running community. He led many runners in enjoying the numerous health and social benefits of running.

We started at Lake Galena for many Saturday morning runs more than 30 years ago. He then started a group in Stockton, N.J. on weekends where we would meet at 8:00 a.m. One of his greatest accomplishments was organizing the ‘Holiday 8’. Every Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve we would meet for an eight-mile run beginning at Starbucks in the center of Doylestown. After the run we would socialize and enjoy each other’s company. Leading the Bucks County 5K Series epitomized his service to others. We called him the ‘Prez’ for all his tireless hours leading that great group. Thanks, Coach, for all the fun times we had running with you.”

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      Dr. Johnny King-Marino, two-time Kona Hawaii Ironman Championship qualifier:

      “Dick was more than just the Bucks 5K series director — he was a friend/mentor and one hell of a great man. His energy and dedication to our community was unparalleled. He touched so many lives. He will be missed by the multitudes of people whose lives he enriched. I was always fascinated by the number of balls he could keep up in the air. Many people don’t realize how many different community groups with which he was affiliated. Dick was a fierce competitor at running, tennis and  fundraising for his favorite charities. He was never too busy for a kind word or to answer a question. When Dick felt a certain way about something that needed to happen you knew it would happen the way he wanted it to. We all admired that about him. He always brought the best out in everyone and and always knew how to rally the troops to achieve our common goal.”

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      Tracey Sawyer, sub-18-minute 5K runner:

      “Dick was an incredible leader, endurance athlete, servant citizen and kind soul. He was a genuine friend to hundreds of people in Bucks County, gave selflessly to many important social causes and non-profits. He was smart, funny, focused and wise. His smile and his legacy will remain with all those he has touched throughout his extraordinary life. He was so giving to his beloved Doylestown. As Bucks 5K Series director, Dick helped create a strong community of runners, many of whom have become like family to me. Many of my most memorable life experiences were outgrowths from the Series, so I am forever indebted to his service. I recently joined the Bucks 5K Series board as secretary and, although I wish our time on the board had overlapped, I am honored to hopefully contribute to the community he so lovingly nurtured.”

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      Kris Boger, Doylestown 5K director:

      “I feel so lucky to have worked closely with Dick for about 13 years through the Series. I’ll be forever grateful for his leadership, wisdom and most importantly his friendship. He’s played a major role in shaping the person I strive to be each day. You would be hard-pressed to find a runner locally who hadn’t crossed paths with Dick at some point through a shared love of running. Watching him interact with runners at our events was like watching a celebrity interact with fans. He remembered every runner and would always be their biggest cheerleader. He was so well respected and admired by all, it was impossible to not be swept up in his enthusiasm and endless energy.”

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      Justin Grand, associate executive of Bucks, Hunterdon (N.J.) YMCAs :

      “Dick fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine – to have the privilege to race direct, and to prioritize community, family, healthy living and innovation through the vehicle of running. Everything that I know, he taught me and he taught me how to do it with grace, the strongest attention to detail and pride. To say Dick was a legendary friend of our YMCA of Bucks and Hunterdon counties would be an understatement. Thank you for being our friend, our leader, equally celebrating us and challenging us to keep improving and keep growing community throughout the Bucks 5K Series. And believing in all of us. We forever run forward with the torch in our hands that Dick ignited in us all. We run with Dick, his wife Edythe and their family in all of our thoughts and prayers this 2024 season and every step forward.”

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      Mike Diorka, two-mile record-holder at St. Joseph’s University:

      Dick was a person who cared about others. Upon my return to Bucks County, I was introduced to him after one of the Bucks 5K Series races, a competition he helped initiate. He was always welcoming to others, and committed to making the Series great. I always enjoyed his friendly commentary during training runs.”

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      Stephanie Savastano, Rehoboth Marathon winner, Boston Marathon 3:09 runner:

      “My memories of Dick are all from the Bucks 5K Series in which he would always have a smile. He seemed to get great joy from handing out the series awards. One year as a participant we were able to request a bib number 10 and above. I emailed him asking for my lucky number 8, fully understanding it was under 10 and didn’t expect special treatment. Dick promptly replied and kindly gave me the number I asked for. I kept that bib. A little act of kindness that made a difference for me.”

      >Race calendar

      Saturday, April 13

      Be Kind 5, 9:30 a.m., Holicong Park, Buckingham. Contact www.bucks5kseries.com

      Rock Your Socks 5K for Down Syndrome, 10 a.m., Langhorne. Contact www.raceentry.com

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About Wayne Fish 2446 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.