April 9, 2009
DeKALB, IL --- Funeral services for Northern Illinois University Hall of Famer and former basketball standout Robert (Bob) L. Patterson---a 6-foot-10, 220-pound back-up center on the storied 21-4 Huskie quintet that upset No. 5-ranked Indiana, played South Carolina in the Chicago Stadium, and cracked the nation's Top 20 in 1971-72---are scheduled for Saturday (April 11) in Florida.
The 57-year-old Patterson suffered a massive heart attack and died last Sunday morning (April 5) in his Miami, FL, hometown. An All-State selection at Jackson Senior High School, he earned two Northern Illinois varsity letters (1971-72 for head coach tom Jorgensen and 1973-74 for head coach Emory Luck). The aforementioned 1971-72 Huskie starting five featured four professional draft picks in Jim Bradley (NBA-ABA), Billy "The Kid" Harris (NBA), Larry Jackson (NBA), and Jerry Zielinski (ABA).
"This is a shock," said Harris, a seventh-round draft pick of the NBA Chicago Bulls and an Honorable Mention Basketball Weekly All-America pick (1972-73). "Of all the guys, Bob was 6-9, 6-10, you think big guys like that are indestructable. He was a big, strong kid who had decent skills. Bob could put the ball on the floor and had a nice touch from the foul line. Life, you never know. This is all difficult to beleive. Bob was a great guy."
Patterson averaged 2.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in 18 contests as a sophomore on Jorgensen's Midwestern Conference champions. He tallied a season-high 11 points and nine boards in his second career start at Purdue. In the historic 85-71 victory over coach Bobby Knight's Hoosiers in a roraring, jam-packed Chick Evans Field House on January 4, 1972, Patterson posted six points on 3-of-5 shots from the floor and four rebounds.
During three campaigns on the NIU varsity (1971-73, 1974-75), Patterson produced 192 career rebounds (4.6 per game average) and 114 career points (2.7 ppg.) in 42 appearances. As a senior in 1974-75, he averaged 6.6 ppg. and 11.6 rbpg. before being sidelined by academics. Patterson recorded two point-rebound "double doubles" in his final campaign with a career-high 17 boards and 11 points at Arizona, plus 15 rebounds and 14 points vs. Long Beach State.
His younger brother Clarence---another Miami Jackson Senior High School product---earned his Northern Illinois freshman numerals in 1971-72. Clarence preceded his older brother in death (2000).
The 1971-72 group---regarded as the best men's cage unit in school history---was enshrined tnto the Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in 1987. The Huskies finished third nationally in major-college scoring (95.2 ppg.), rolled up an 11-game winning streak, ten 100-point games, seven Evans Field House sellouts, and a No. 19 ranking in the Associated Press poll in January.
Affectionately known to his NIU teammates as "Miami", "Uncle Bob" to his family, and "Big Bob" and "Chief" to friends and co-workers, Patterson was born in Millen, GA, on March 4, 1952. A U. S. Army veteran (1983-87), he worked for Waste Management of America (1984-97) and the Miami Dade County Solid Waste Department (1997-2008). In December, 2008, he was named the assistant director of operations with the City of Miami. Patterson received a bachelor of science degree in education from NIU in May, 1975.
Patterson is survived by his wife of 29 years, Glenda; his son Robert, two grandchildren, Jacari and Jaden Patterson; his father, Clarence; mother Salley Phillips; brother Theodore; sister Louise (Williams) of Virginia; and two sisters-in-law, Alicia Walton and Corrice Patterson; plus two step-sisters, Michelle Dismuke and Wanda Houston.
Visitation is scheduled for Friday (April 10) from 6-to-8 p.m. (EDT) at the New Birth Baptist Church Cathedreal of Faith International, 2300 NW 135th Street in Miami. The funeral services are set for Saturday (April 11) at 11 a.m, at the
same church. Interment will be at the Forest Lawn Central Cemetary in Fort Lauderdale.
For further information, please contact Mike Korcek, SID Emeritus (815) 753-9559.