COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Grady Patterson Jr., South Carolina's longtime former state treasurer, has died. He was 85.
His longtime spokesman Trav Robertson said the retired Air Force general and treasurer of 37 years died Monday.
Patterson was a World War II Army fighter pilot from Calhoun Falls who flew combat missions from Iwo Jima and in the Air Force during the Korean War. He worked in a mill store and earned a law degree.
Patterson first won the office in 1966. He lost a 1994 re-election bid but won back the seat in 1998.
Patterson was the lone Democratic incumbent in statewide office seeking re-election in 2006, making him a GOP target. He lost to Republican Thomas Ravenel.
Former and current South Carolina politicians and collegues have been chiming in all day to express their sadness at the news of Patterson's death.
Gov. Mark Sanford praised Patterson's service in the military and in politics.
"His commitment and willingness to serve both overseas and in state government should be an example for us all, and for that and the fact that he'll be deeply missed by those whose lives he touched, I'd offer our state's thoughts and prayers to the Patterson family," said Sanford.
In a written statement, current State Treasurer Converse Chellis said, "We are saddened to learn of Mr. Patterson's passing. He was a man who gave so much to his state and country. As a U.S. Army fighter pilot, he fought for freedom. He was a part of our country's 'Greatest Generation' and our nation is better because of Mr. Patterson's service."
Attorney General Henry McMaster said, "Grady Patterson was a devoted public servant and dear friend of our state. Today, on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, it's fitting that we pay special tribute to Grady Patterson."
Comptroller Richard Eckstrom said, "Grady leaves a great legacy of service to the people of South Carolina and the United States."
"Mr. Patterson's unquestioned integrity and his complete devotion to our state and nation made him an example for every elected official to follow," said SC Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler.
"Grady Patterson was a good friend to me and to the people of South Carolina," said House Speaker Bobby Harrell. "All of us who have had the pleasure of getting to know Grady over the rich history of his life will truly miss him."
"During my term as governor and 14 years in the House of Representatives, I could always depend on his wise counsel and his willingness to put aside partisan politics to do what was best for the people of South Carolina," said former Gov. David Beasley.
Patterson is survived by his wife Marjorie, and six children.
Patterson's visitation will be Wednesday at Davis Hall at Shandon Presbyterian Church from 5pm until 7pm.
The funeral will also be at the church on Thursday at 1pm.