Timothy Alan Patterson ’68, May 18, 2014, in Berkeley, California, from brain cancer.
“I started thinking of myself as a writer in the 9th grade,” Tim wrote, “when my buddy Bill Sprague and I talked Mr. Russel, our English teacher, into letting us drop out of class, sit in the back, and work on a novel. No trace of that early work remains . . .”
Tim came to Reed from Los Angeles, and earned a BA from Reed and an MA from Stanford in history. He did graduate work on the history of country music at SUNY-Stony Brook, and returned to the Bay Area in 1984. He wrote professionally about music, television, and political campaigns, as well as computer programming and software, for more than three decades. Tim and Nancy Freeman, who married in 1987, were business partners for Culinary Communications & Consulting, doing writing for clients in the food and wine industry. Tim wrote about wine, publishing his work in Wines & Vines, Wine Enthusiast, Diablo, Central Coast Adventures, and the Vine. As a writer, he was witty and “irrepressibly curious,” noted editor Jim Gordon of Wines & Vines. He combined “liberal arts erudition,” expertise in wine production, and wry humor, creating pieces that were “light, while firmly educational.” In 1994, Tim ventured into winemaking, and created in his garage and cellar the business Subterranean Cellars. He went on to earn gold medals in state and regional competitions for the wines he produced. “At first, it was just so amazing that I could make something drinkable in my garage,” he said in an interview. But he also was intrigued with the technical requirements of the hobby and the way in which it drew on his senses and stamina. He continued to write, publishing Home Winemaking for Dummies in 2010. “Though I am not the first Reedie to publish a Dummies book, it’s still far from the standard university-press literary trajectory commonly found among alums,” he told Reed. “For that matter, although there are a handful of Reedies in the wine business, that’s not a core Reed career track, either. Perhaps it was my year of classical Greek with Prof. Fred Peachy [classics, 1956–82] that got me interested in Dionysus and his fellow revelers; perhaps it was my stint as student body president that got me used to embarrassing myself in public; or perhaps it was the knowledge that a world-famous wine region sprang up in the Willamette Valley starting the year I left Portland, making me forever play catch-up.”
Tim was coauthor of Concannon: The First 125 Years and a contributor to Adventures in Wine and Opus Vino. He also wrote a blog, Blind Muscat’s Cellarbook. He was diagnosed with cancer in February. He is remembered for his sense of humor, his cooking, and “an ability to throw one heck of a party.” His family reports that Tim revealed his personal complexity “through the passion with which he took on all comers in debate and a delightful silliness that permeated his interactions with almost everyone and was captured in many a family picture.” Survivors include Nancy, stepson Diego Rocamora, three grandchildren, and two brothers. He is also survived by his cousins Nato Green ’97 and Naomi Schoenfeld ’97.
Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2014