Rhuel Dennis Patterson, a gentle man of God, left his earthly home and entered the gates of heaven on Sunday, October 3, 2021. He was 98 years of age.
Devoted. Humble. Resilient. An anchor. These are words that define this man beloved by so many.
Rhuel was the oldest child of Ottice Bascom Patterson and Wilma Lucille Tolbert. He was born in Jackson County, Georgia and spent much of his childhood in Gainesville living on West Avenue and attending Main Street School. He had fond memories of attending Gainesville High Football games at City Park during that time.
His family narrowly missed the wrath and destruction of the tornado of ’36 as they moved two weeks before its arrival. Their home was destroyed.
Rhuel’s father died when Rhuel was 14 years old. Suddenly, he was the man of the family and his mother and three siblings relied on him greatly. Times were hard during these Depression era years and the family was forced to move to the family home place in the country.
Due to his persistence and determination, Rhuel finished at Maysville High School and eventually enabled the family to move to the hope of a better life in Toccoa.
During World War II, he joined the Navy and served in the Pacific theatre as a gunner’s mate on the USS Mackinac, a seaplane tender. His ship was one of the large fleet of ships in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd, 1945 when the treaty was signed ending the war with Japan.
After the war, Rhuel returned to Toccoa and was introduced to Dorothy Ann Carlton by his sister. They married on October 26, 1947. She was “his girl” and they remained sweethearts for life. They eventually moved to Gainesville and for 67 years lived in their home on Enota Avenue. Their two children Ann and Roger found love and security there. This month would have been their 74th wedding anniversary.
The better part of his professional life found Rhuel working as a life insurance agent for Life of Georgia. His territory (or debit) was Forsyth County and largely consisted of customers who purchase insurance with weekly premiums. He was well known for paying customers’ premiums during hard times to prevent a lapse in their policy. He retired from Life of Georgia after 25+ successful years and never looked back. No one enjoyed retirement more than Rhuel.
In retirement, he became more active in Civitans, SAR and the American Legion. He enjoyed playing golf, attending the Masters, working in the yard and cheering on the Red Elephants and Georgia Bulldogs. For many years he was a member of Central Baptist Church where he served as a deacon and taught young men in Sunday School.
In 1978, he joined First Baptist Church where he was a devoted member of the Anglers Sunday School class, served with prayer call, co-chaired the Senior Adult Committee, and enjoyed the Vintagers. He and Dorothy Ann found special joy in visiting homebound members and dispensing love and encouragement.
Rhuel is pre-deceased by his parents and his beloved sister, Dorothy Patterson DeFoor of Toccoa, GA.
He is survived by his treasured wife, Dorothy Ann Carlton Patterson, his daughter Ann Luther (Randy) of Nashville, TN, his son Roger Patterson (Faith) of Pittsboro, NC, two adored grandchildren Renee Leonard (Joel) of Greensboro, NC and Beth Mellott (Lane) of Pittsboro, NC and four great grandchildren Evelyn Leonard, Charlotte Leonard, Lacey Mellott and Hannah Mellott.
He is also survived by his siblings, O.B. Patterson, Jr. (Ann) and Kathryn Steele (Thomas) both of Toccoa, GA, as well as his sister-in-law, Gail DuVall (Dan) of Cleveland, GA. In addition, many loving nieces and nephews and treasured friends survive.
The family would like to thank the staff of Morningside of Gainesville for their devoted care of Rhuel these past two years.
A service in celebration of the life of Rhuel Patterson will be held on Friday, October 8th at 2:00 pm at Little-Davenport Funeral Home. Visitation with the family will be held from 12 noon – 2:00 pm in advance of the service with Bruce Fields officiating.
Flowers will be accepted. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the First Baptist Church Ministry of Caring.
Those wishing to send online condolences to the family may do so at littledavenport.com
Little & Davenport Funeral Home and Crematory, 355 Dawsonville Highway, SW, Gainesville, Georgia 30501 is in charge of arrangements.
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