Marilyn Patton Leaves a Legacy of Philanthropy

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by David Bailey
President/CEO

We’ve lost a dear friend and I want to share a few memories with you.

Marilyn Patton, the first lady of philanthropy to so many in our community, passed on April 9. If you never had the opportunity to meet Marilyn, the best way I can describe her is that she was a funny, feisty, generous, approachable and knowledgeable woman. Most of all, she was kind and we will miss her.

Marilyn gave more than a dozen hours a week and nearly 50 years of service as a volunteer for the St. Joseph’s gift shop and the Mission Hospital gift shop after the merger. She found great joy in providing a service to the families of patients and the opportunity to produce income for the hospital.

When Helpmate was presented the opportunity to convert the former Sisters of Mercy convent for use as a new shelter, Marilyn was moved to make sure nothing stood in the way.

A Family Legacy

I must say that to tell the story of Marilyn’s impact on our community is to tell the story of her whole family; her father, Harry Blomberg and sister, Barbara Blomberg, her late husband Buddy Patton and their children Pat, Harry and Lynn. The Patton/Blomberg family represents what is best in philanthropy:

  • giving generously - usually setting the bar
  • encouraging others to follow their lead
  • lending their name to efforts and when needed,  give quietly to help smaller campaigns
  • and, very importantly, their philanthropy is multi-generational – they have passed down this virtue to each successive generation.

The Blomberg/Patton families have been United Way Tocqueville donors since 1992. In 2002, we established the Alexis de Tocqueville Community Service Award as a way to honor our most generous leaders.  Buddy and Marilyn Patton and Barbara Blomberg were selected, together, as our first recipients. Their example truly set the tone for future awardees.

It is fitting that when you walk into our building, our lobby is named in honor of S.M. "Buddy" Patton. Marilyn and Buddy visited often, valued our staff’s work and understood our need for improved space so, when we ran a capital campaign to update our building, they were right beside us ensuring success.

Our hearts are with the whole family as they celebrate her life and legacy. Marilyn was one of a kind!

Learn more about Marilyn, her family, the Blombergs and the important role they, and the Patton’s, played in our local economy in this great 2012 article from Verve magazine.