11/28/05 A Love Story--Part I
She was 17, and he was 20 when they were married in 1958. She was the love of his life, and he was hers. Pat describes Bill Patterson as being extremely handsome and having an incredible singing voice, which he used often to serenade her.
Unfortunately, Bill had a drinking problem, which led to his getting in trouble for fighting. Pat asked for a divorce, and Bill would not sign the papers. Pat fought him in court and was able to get her divorce.
Bill never re-married, stating that he didn’t believe in divorce. The truth was that the two never stopped loving each other. They saw each other a few times in 1960, and over the years, Bill adopted a drifter lifestyle, staying in homeless shelters in the region.
Pat married again and was busy raising her children when Bill came back into her life for a brief moment in time in 1982. He came into town, called her, and she went to see him. He had cooked her dinner, but Pat didn’t want to eat. She asked why he called. Bill simply said that he wanted to see her again. He hugged and kissed Pat one last time, and told her how good she looked. He then flashed that special smile she could never forget. They parted ways amicably, and Pat asked him not to contact her again.
Pat recalls the last time Bill was seen by friends and relatives: “This was around 1998-99 in Copperhill, TN. He would have been around 60 at that time. He had been to Blue Ridge, GA. back to where he was born and seen some old friends. He went to see a cousin but he wasn't home. He got a ride with someone who knew him and asked them to take him to Copperhill, TN and that he was going to hitch a ride to Dalton, GA, his former hometown and where I live. However, none of his relatives or friends in Dalton saw him during that time period, so he evidently went elsewhere. In 1993, Bill’s brother died, and relatives saw him on that occasion, but there was no contact after that.”
Pat’s life changed in 2001 when her husband died. A few years later, Pat felt a pull from “beyond”. It was Bill, and Pat had an overwhelming feeling that he was all alone.
“I felt propelled by a force that was beyond me. I went to a nephew of Bill's funeral and saw a number of Bill's relatives there. I made up my mind after that I would search until I found him. I met a first cousin of his there and I later contacted her as well as a woman whose husband had run around with Bill. The cousin had not seen him since he was small but the friend had seen him over the years and last saw him in 1993. They both helped me,” Pat explained.
She continues with the beginnings of her journey back to Bill: “I always had a special place in my heart for Bill, so I thought I would find him and see if perhaps I could help him wherever he was and whatever he was doing. I contacted a private investigation company out of New York and also one out of Texas. I also contacted the Salvation Army for help. I went to the police in Copperhill, TN and filed a Missing Persons report. I also listed him with the National Center for Missing Adults who put me in contact with Project Jason and the DOE Network. His photo was on these websites. All this occurred from Jan. 2005 up to May 2005. I also wrote a letter which Social Security said they would/might send him if he was collecting Social Security benefits. I never heard back from SS.
I contacted every relative and friend I could find. He has nephews and nieces and a sister-in-law and brother-in-law in the town where I am, and I went to see them. His family here was anxious for me to find him and supported my efforts to the maximum. I obtained copies of his birth certificate, our marriage license and certificate in an effort for some clues to his whereabouts. The investigators had not turned up anything. I did obtain his SS number from a police file, but no one could get any information from that. He had listed his address at one time as Baton Rouge, LA, and a check with shelters and police records in that area turned up nothing.
Social Security said they were unable to give me any information. Homeless shelters were reluctant to give information and those I contacted at that time had no record of him. The police were not searching either. I felt like I was hitting a wall constantly.”
A Love Story will continue on Tuesday.