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Mather Residents Mourn History Tutor

* Patterson, 45, seen as model for gay students


John Thomas Patterson, a non-resident history tutor and former resident tutor at Mather House, died Thursday.

Patterson, who was 45, died at Brigham and Women's Hospital of AIDS-related complications, the Boston Globe reported.

Patterson's mother, Mildred R. Patterson, said, "I was very proud of him. He was everything you would ever want in a son."

Dr. Sandra A. Naddaff '75, master of Mather House, said that Patterson will be missed by the entire Mather community.

"I think every once in a while a House is lucky enough to have a person like John," she said. "He was very involved in the life of the undergraduates."

Patterson's involvement in the Harvard community stretched back into the mid-'70s, when Patterson was a proctor at Matthews Hall and a Harvard teaching fellow.

Patterson was a 1982 graduate of Harvard Law School and practiced law in New York City for several years.

In 1988 he enrolled in a doctoral program in legal history. It was then that his involvement with Mather House began.

According to Tina L. Lu '90, a resident tutor at Mather who knew Patterson for six years, Patterson's experience outside the academic world helped him become a better tutor.

"He was a great resource for a lot of people," she said. "He had a depth of experience that most tutors don't have."

Jed D. Kolko '92, a graduate student in economics and a close friend of Patterson for the last 10 years, said that Harvard played a significant role in Patterson's life.

"Harvard gave him a home where [he] could be intellectual, could have challenging conversations, where he could be around other serious thinkers," Kolko said.

Jeffrey P. Moran, a resident tutor at Mather House, said that Patterson was "an intellectual and social role model."

"He was very up-front about being gay," he continued, "he really wanted to be an example to students who were gay, but also to students who weren't."

"A whole generation of students have benefited both from his intellect and his generosity," said Kolko of the impact of Patterson's death.

A memorial will be held for Patterson at 11 a.m. on Oct. 31 at Memorial Church. A reception will follow at Mather House.

All who wish to pay their respects are welcome.

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