Karl's Story

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Karl Watson Patten, Jr., 90, of Lewisburg, died April 16, 2017, at Evangelical Community Hospital, Lewisburg.
Born Feb. 28, 1927, in Beverly, Mass., Patten was the son of the late Karl Watson and Elinor (Noble) Patten. He was married on Dec. 31, 1947, to the former Isabelle Cameron, who predeceased him.
Patten was a graduate of Salem High school, earned a bachelor of arts degree from Williams College and earned a Ph.D. in English literature from Boston University. He joined the English faculty of Bucknell University in 1956 and taught there for more than 40 years. He taught courses on subjects as diverse as Dante, James Joyce, and silence. He founded the film studies emphasis within the English Department and ran the Hilltop Film Series for many years. He was the co-founder of the literary journal "West Branch" and longtime co-host of the annual West Branch Poetry Festival at Bucknell. He was a widely published poet, and his most recent book appeared two months before his 90th birthday.
An ardent and outspoken advocate for human rights, Patten was the co-founder of the Lewisburg Prison Project, and he headed the Lewisburg Chapter of the ACLU for more than 25 years. He was generous to the extreme, avidly tithing to causes devoted to the betterment of the world community. He achieved this by living an intentionally frugal life.
Patten loved music, especially vintage jazz. He possessed a magnificent appreciation for and knowledge of the visual arts. His love of baseball was truly awe inspiring; he knew almost every major league player's batting average for half a century.
Patten is survived by two sons, Christopher C. Patten of Monterey, Mass., and Thomas N. Patten of Watsontown; a sister, Sally Davis, of Palm Desert, Calif.; two grandsons, Zachary T. Patten of Needham, Mass., and Penn Hastings Patten of Watsontown; a granddaughter, Helen Hastings Patten of Watsontown; two great-grandchildren, Lukas and Simona Patten of Needham, Mass. He was predeceased by a daughter, Elisabeth, who died in infancy.
A memorial service in celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m., June 10, 2017, in Bucknell Hall, 570 Loomis St. Lewisburg.
Published on April 18, 2017
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