MADISON, Ala. - The Meridianville community is mourning the loss of a leader. Four term State Representative Jim Patterson died suddenly Monday afternoon. He was just 67 years old.
Friends say, Rep. Jim Patterson, (R) - Meridianville, was large in stature with a personality that filled the mold.
“He wasn’t afraid to take some heed if he was doing what he thought to be right," says Rep. Mike Ball, (R) - Madison.
Ball first met his colleague in 2010, when Patterson was first elected to the State Legislature.
“You always knew where he stood," says Ball.
He says he was passionate and loyal on just about everything.
“He had that genuineness, and when he was happy you knew it, and when he was mad about something you knew it,” Ball says.
That passion includes his work on the Autism Insurance Bill. Patterson spent much of the 2017 Legislative Session championing the, now law, that requires insurance companies to provide coverage to children diagnosed with autism.
"That was a labor of love for him and I think it’s fitting that will be the legislation he will mostly be remembered for," says Ball.
Long before his days in the legislature, Rep. Patterson actually served on the Madison County School Board during a time of great growth for the district. In just 12 years, they built Sparkman, New Hope, Hazel Green and Madison County High Schools, along with Meridianville and Monrovia Middle Schools.
Superintendent Matt Massey says that etches Patterson's legacy with the school system, as deep as each school's foundation.
“His leadership is what helped make that school system, our school system what it is today and put us in a great position moving forward and to do great things for kids," says Massey.
Patterson's work for Madison County Schools extended beyond his tenure on the board from 1988 to 2000.
“One of the main things that he did was reduce the class sizes for grades 4-6. That’s something that he and I worked very closely on," says Massey.
Now both men are sad they have to say goodbye to a giant, that had so much more living still "on the docket."
“A statesman in every sense of the word," says Superintendent Massey.
“There’s something about Jim I guess most of us thought he’d always be there. You should all remember that life is a very fragile thing," says Rep. Ball.
A special election will have to be called by Governor Kay Ivey, to fill Rep. Patterson's seat.
So far, no word on when that primary will be scheduled.
Visitation for Representative Patterson will be held on Thursday, October 5 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Meridianville, located at 175 Monroe Road.
The funeral service will be held on Friday, October 6 at 2:00 p.m. at Hazel Green High School.
Click here to read reactions from other state lawmakers on the death of Rep. Patterson.