- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming leaders on Monday remembered Sheridan Republican lawmaker John Patton as a dedicated public servant.

Patton, who had been hospitalized since having a stent inserted to open a blocked artery in mid-February, died Sunday. He was 84.

Patton first moved to Sheridan in the mid-1950s and had worked in real estate and insurance businesses.

The Casper Star Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1Fwc8wX ) that Patton served in the House in 1961 and 1965, in the Senate from 1967 to 1971 and returned to the House in 2009, where he served through this year. He became ill on Feb. 17 and remained hospitalized in early March while battling a respiratory infection. He was unable to return to the legislative session, which ended March 6.

Patton chaired the House Education Committee this year and sponsored a bill that will allow the Wyoming State Board of Education to spend money to review the Next Generation Science Standards.

Gov. Matt Mead issued a statement Monday on Patton’s death.

“John Patton was a wonderful Wyoming man and a thoughtful, hard-working legislator who set a positive example for his colleagues,” Mead said. “He loved Wyoming and it showed in his service. I was not at all surprised to find him still working during a recent visit at the hospital. We are sorry to lose a friend and great public servant. Carol and I send our condolences to Virginia and his entire family.”

Mead ordered the Wyoming state flag to be flown at half-staff at the Capitol in Cheyenne and in Sheridan County from Monday until sundown of the day of Patton’s internment, which hasn’t yet been scheduled.

Sheridan County lawmakers also spoke highly of Patton. The Sheridan Press reported (https://bit.ly/19Zj2PO ) that Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, said it was tragic that Patton died so shortly after he had become chairman of the education committee.

“He had a great institutional memory and a genuine love of government and the philosophy of government,” Burns said of Patton.

“By being a legislator and still actively doing this up to age 84, you don’t do that for the money, you do that for the love,” Burns said. “And the fact that John went 30 years between tenures as a legislator shows that he came back to the thing he loved.”

Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, agreed Patton’s return to service was extraordinary but also credited his service in the state Legislature in the 1960s and 1970s.

“He loved representing the people of Sheridan and doing what’s right,” Kinskey said of Patton.

Jillian Balow, Wyoming superintendent of public instruction, issued a statement Monday calling Patton a tireless advocate for children.

“He led impactful change in Wyoming education and brought great perspective to the Legislature,” Balow said. “I, and the state of Wyoming, have lost a great mentor. I will miss him as a friend and colleague.”

Patton is survived by his wife Virginia, his sons Bill, Jack and J.T. and daughter Jinny and many other relatives. His daughter Sue died in 2007.

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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