Tribute: George Ross Patterson

On July 6, 2016, a dear friend and faithful servant of the Lord, George Ross Patterson, was called home to be with the Lord he loved. Born in N. Ireland in 1926 to Christian parents, George often said he was the prodigal son in the family. Thank God the prodigal came home December 21, 1947, before his move to London, ON in 1948 and his marriage to dear Fran in 1950.

My first recollection of George came after our family missed a Sunday gospel meeting at Clinton. When inquiring of my father who the speakers were that evening, he replied that a man, George, from London spoke. He carried an engraved Bible bag with the verse, “Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6), and could he ever preach! George and Fran purchased a farm north of Clinton, ON, joined the fellowship here, and from the early seventies we began to notice the priorities displayed by this man of God.

His heart’s desire, to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, was evident. He was engaged in both personal visitation and public preaching, in tents, rented buildings, and halls across southern Ontario, about the Man Who died on dark Calvary. He had a sincere interest in smaller assemblies. Many refer to George as their “father in the faith.” George loved his Savior and the gathering center. His attendance at all meetings of the assembly was a top priority. He loved to minister the Word. Even when his ministry was corrective in nature, we all knew he had our best interests at heart. He urged the saints to redeem the time, reminding us all “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.  And when I am dying how happy I’ll be, if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”  Before his passing, every family in the assembly received a framed copy of that nine verse poem as a gift from our dear brother.

We will miss his help in the weekly Bible readings. He was quick to encourage younger brethren as it was not his desire to monopolize. At the age of 90, with the use of oxygen, just a couple weeks before his home call, George still gave excellent, edifying ministry.

He loved to work with children. At one particular children’s treat, a sister was apologizing for the noise the children were making in the lunch hall. George told her not to worry, adding that some assemblies would love to hear those sounds. On Lord’s Day, there were often three or four children gathered around him, enjoying his wit and humor during our coffee break. When the news of his passing reached these tender ones, they shed tears. He loved to reminisce about the many years he and brother Hugh Garnham from London had very active children’s works in conjunction with the St. Mary’s, ON assembly and with Chelsea Heights in London. Only heaven will reveal the full extent of this labor.

The work in Wisconsin was dear to his heart. He spoke of gospel labors with a number of fellow workers in that area, mentioning many prayer requests from the believers and names of contacts still without Christ. With the help of God he saw an assembly planted at Egg Harbour, presently meeting in their new hall at Jacksonport, WI. He longed to visit them once more, desiring to be just a little more help to this company of God’s dear people.

Fran, his dear wife of nearly 66 years, stood behind him in every aspect of his work, experiencing lonely days and long nights without complaint. As his health failed in recent years, she was a devoted caregiver. Although it was difficult at times, they both showed such an exemplary determination to faithfully gather with the Lord’s people. In his later years, unable to be so active in the gospel, he would sit in the coffee shop or in the mall and pray that some poor lost soul would come and sit down near him so he could begin a conversation about his beloved Savior. All of the Lord’s people can take a lesson from his God-pleasing example.

Philippians 1:27 sums up the life of our esteemed brother: “Stand  fast in one Spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” He appreciated all of his fellow workers and also his fellow saints in our assembly. Our esteemed brother, George Patterson, will indeed be missed in God’s assembly in Clinton.