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Doward B. Patterson Jr. died Monday from pulmonary fibrosis at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson. He was 85.
Doward B. Patterson Jr. died Monday from pulmonary fibrosis at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson. He was 85. (HANDOUT)

Doward B. Patterson Jr., co-owner of Carter Clinical Labs and the first African American clinical chemist to work in the pathology department at Sinai Hospital, died Monday from pulmonary fibrosis at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson. He was 85.

"Doward was a wonderful citizen of Baltimore. He was very caring and active in community affairs," said Sylvia Brown, a longtime friend. "He loved life, his wife and his family. He was a wonderful human being and had a great sense of humor."

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"He was gentle, very sweet, polite, never raised his voice and always had a smile on his face," said Dr. Louis L. Randall, a retired Baltimore obstetrician and gynecologist and friend for many years. "We were longstanding neighbors for 30 years in Forest Park."

The son of Doward B. Patterson Sr., a Bethlehem Steel Corp. foreman at Sparrows Point, and Louie Marshall Patterson, a homemaker, Doward Belmont Patterson Jr. was born and raised in the segregated company town of Turner Station.

His youth was spent in a house on J Street — one of the first at Turner Station to have indoor plumbing.

"Gone were the days that his family had to go to the outhouse and use J.C. Penney and Sears catalogs for toilet paper," wrote a daughter, Dr. Angela Patterson, a neonatologist, who lives in Silver Spring, in a biographical profile of her father.

"Typical of the times, Baltimore County only provided education for black children up to the seventh grade," she wrote. "The notion of suspending one's education after the seventh grade was never even a consideration in the Patterson household."

Because of his color, Mr. Patterson was not allowed to attend Dundalk High School, so each day he rode the streetcar to Baltimore to attend Dunbar High School. He graduated there in 1947.

"Through it all, however, he never complained," his daughter wrote.

During high school summers, Mr. Patterson worked at Sparrows Point. He survived losing a leg after being run over by a fork lift truck, family members said.

Mr. Patterson earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1951 from Morgan State University. He also attended Johns Hopkins University and obtained a master's degree in chemistry in 1952 from the old Franklin School of Science and Arts in Philadelphia.

He was hired by Dr. Tobias Weinberg at Sinai Hospital in 1952, becoming the first African American hired as a chemist in the hospital's pathology department.

"I've known [Mr. Patterson] for more than 40 years and, prior to me, my wife knew him when she was a cardio tech at Sinai," said Dr. Stephen Glasser, a Baltimore internist.

"We used to call him Pat and he worked in the clinical pathology department. Pat was probably one of the kindest, sweetest, warmest and gentle man I've ever known," he said. "He was a fine human being in all aspects."

"He helped get several of us who were African Americans and in medical school get hired as emergency techs at Sinai," said Dr. Randall.

"He was academically noted for his invaluable work and contribution to kidney dialysis in the early 1950s with the notable and world-renowned Dr. Robert Levy," his daughter wrote.

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Mr. Patterson was co-author on multiple publications with Sinai colleagues Dr. Robert E. Wink, a clinical pathologist, and Jack Lustgarten, a chemist.

"He was hailed and honored for his precise work ethic and techniques during the early trials of testing for cystic fibrosis which involved rigging electrical currents and use of paraffin wax to catch human sweat for sodium chloride testing," Dr. Patterson wrote.

His work earned him awards from GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Laboratories, Beckman Coulter and Kodak.

Mr. Patterson was an educational coordinator for students and medical technicians at Community College of Baltimore County Essex, where he also served as a guest lecturer.

In addition to his work at Sinai, Mr. Patterson was co-owner of Carter Clinical Labs in the Garwyn Medical Center on Garrison Boulevard. He was also a member of the American Clinical Society and American Association of Clinical Chemist.

He retired in 1995.

As a young man, Mr. Patterson spent summer Sundays on the Chesapeake Bay aboard the 83-foot yacht Fla-Joe, owned by Dr. Joe Thomas, an African American doctor.

On one of those voyages that he was introduced to the former Helen Norma Michael of Asheville, N.C., who was a Baltimore public school educator. They fell in love and married in 1957.

Mr. Patterson enjoyed water skiing, boating and camping.

Philanthropists Eddie Brown, chairman and CEO of Brown Capital Management, and his wife Sylvia were longtime friends of Mr. Patterson and his wife, and shared a penchant for camping.

"Doward was an inquisitive traveler," Mrs. Brown said.

"We had campers which we towed behind our car, and were members of a camping group. We had wonderful experiences and traveled to South Carolina, West Virginia, North Carolina, various beaches, and to Pennsylvania many times," she said. "We took many weekend trips went out as far as Illinois. We had so much fun."

"He and his brother were the first African Americans to join the Sparrows Point County Club — which had been a closed club — in the mid-1970s. We held family reunions there and birthday parties," said Dr. Patterson in a telephone interview. "I think that was a significant event in his life."

"Doward was an outstanding person who contributed so much to the community and was a source of inspiration and strength to all of us," said retired Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Joseph F. Murphy Jr., a longtime friend who now works with the firm of Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White LLC.

"He always acknowledged that success is measured by a person's humility, sincerity, life and work ethic, dedication, education, faith and the need to always treat every person with respect and dignity, regardless of their station in life," his daughter said.

A longtime resident of Mohawk Avenue, he had lived at Blakehurst in recent years.

Mr. Patterson was a communicant of New All Saints Roman Catholic Church, 4408 Liberty Heights Ave., where a memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Monday.

In addition to his wife of 60 years and daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Baltimore District Court Judge Devy P. Russell of Homeland; a brother, Dr. Theodore Patterson of Timonium; and four grandchildren.

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