Gary Francis Patterson

September 15, 1944November 16, 2020

Gary Francis Patterson passed away unexpectedly on 16 November 2020 following a fall at his home in Des Moines, Iowa. Gary was born with congenital glaucoma and aniridia in San Diego on September 15, 1944 to Frances and Walter Lampkin. At the end of WWII, Frances moved back to Wichita Falls, TX raising Gary until her marriage to Wayne O. Patterson in 1948.

Gary endured multiple surgeries on his eyes to relieve pressure from the glaucoma before age 3, eliminating the need to remove his eyes until he was an adult. At the age of 5, Gary was enrolled as a live-in student at the Texas School for the Blind in Austin. The rest of his immediate family moved to Austin in 1952. He was a member of the wrestling team and the track team while in high school and was fluent in Spanish. He graduated as Valedictorian in 1962. He then worked for 4 years as a piano tuner for San Antonio Music Company before attending Southwest Texas State College (now Texas State in San Marcos) for 1 year before transferring to the University of Texas in Austin. He married and moved to Des Moines, Iowa, finishing his degree from Iowa State University in Ames with a major in Math and minor in Computer Science. He worked for 33 years for American Republic Life Insurance Company in Des Moines as a computer programmer. Gary had a subtle sense of humor. Once, when his mother came for a visit, Gary reserved her a rental car and insisted on going in to pick up the car. It was regrettable that he was unable to see the clerk’s reaction to the blind man standing at the counter waiting to pick up his rental car! He continued his interest in computers until his death, utilizing new inventions for the visually handicapped – a bar code reader, color identifier (he could “see” the colors of his clothes), table top camera which fed to his laptop to "read" labels, and various voice synthesizing devices and mechanical reading devices. He was adamant and active in efforts regarding the retention and teaching of Braille for the visually handicapped. He enjoyed woodworking, Sudoku, reading and cooking, especially Mexican food. He had an affinity for mathematics and had a voracious interest in money management and financial news. He was raised to be independent, overcoming many challenges from his lack of sight and he traveled extensively. He toured the Baltic Sea countries and England by himself. He was single and living independently at the time of his death. Gary is survived by a daughter, Antoinette E. Smith, of Cypress, TX and a son, John Patterson of Des Moines, IA and 4 grandchildren, Theodore and Maxwell Smith and Riley and Willow Patterson. He is also survived by a sister, Ann M Patterson of Denton, TX, as well as numerous cousins in Michigan and Texas.



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DEB seibel

November 25, 2020

Gary was a special person and I have fond memories from working with him at American Republic. One day in the lunch line together, Gary told me "I haven't seen you for awhile"....
My condolences to those of you that hold him dear.

Julie Yungclas

November 23, 2020

Please accept my deepest sympathies to all family and friends. Gary was a special patient and friend at our dental office for 30+ years. He was funny, so intelligent and caring. He and I went to lunch together after appointments and had great conversations thru which he shared his love and concern for friends anf family while working thru his daily adversities. He was a champion and I am better for having known him. Rest in heavenly peace, friend!


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