Nathetta Mae Patterson

June 5, 1932 ~ February 14, 2018 (age 85)

Nathetta Patterson, 85, of Lake City and formerly Orlando, Florida passed away on February 14, 2018, Valentine’s Day. Born on June 5, 1932 in Miami, she lived a full and active life until her diagnosis 10 years ago with the rare neurodegenerative disease progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), which robbed her of mobility for many years before ultimately ending her life. PSP has no known cause, treatment or cure.

She is survived by her loving and devoted husband Robert Patterson, her two children Steve (Teri) Patterson and JoNell (Rob) Modys, her brother Eugene McWherter, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents Earl and Berniece McWherter. She and Robert met their senior year at Miami Edison High School where she was Valedictorian and was voted most intelligent. She graduated from Florida State University with a degree in education. After her marriage to Robert on June 19, 1954 she was an elementary school teacher until he entered the U.S. Air Force as a pilot in the Strategic Air Command. Her two children benefited greatly from her teaching skills, learning to read before starting kindergarten and developing a lifelong love of reading. Robert often referred to Nathetta as his living dictionary. She completed a crossword puzzle in thirty minutes most days of her adult life. Robert has stated that if there had been a full senior class ranking for intelligence besides her most intelligent award, she would be at the top and he would be in the bottom ten percent, proving that opposites do attract. They moved many times to Air Force bases across the country. Nathetta’s travels found her residing in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, California, Georgia, Florida, Nebraska and Hawaii. From almost every place they lived and as often as they could they took trips to their home town of Miami to visit their large extended family. Upon being stationed at McCoy Air Force Base in Orlando in 1967, they built a home and determined that this would be home base for them no matter where future transfers took them. After their moves to Nebraska and Hawaii, Nathetta and Robert settled back in Orlando for nearly forty years until her condition worsened and they moved to Lake City to be closer to immediate family. Nathetta was known for many things including her talent for painting and quilting. While living in Honolulu she traveled frequently around the island of Oahu to sketch and paint the vibrant Hawaiian landscape using the palette knife technique. She mastered the intricate art of Hawaiian quilting and upon returning to Orlando, she taught Hawaiian quilting at the Pine Castle Center for the Arts. She loved the game of tennis. She was an avid fan of professional tennis and she took up the sport with great enthusiasm when well into her 50’s. She played, and played well, on a women’s tennis team into her 70’s. She will be especially remembered for her kindness, which she showed to everyone she met. From the day they met, through all the years, and every day of her advancing illness, Robert’s love and care for Nathetta never wavered. Theirs is a love story for the ages. The legacy of their devotion to each other will live on as a shining example to all of their family and friends.She was dearly loved. She will always be our Valentine.

A private burial service is planned at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida. A public memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 10 at 11 a.m. at Gateway-Forest Lawn Funeral Home, 3596 S. U.S. Highway 441, Lake City, FL 32025, followed by fellowship and refreshments.

Donations in her memory in lieu of flowers may be made to the non-profit CurePSP research and education organization in care of the Southwest Florida Support Group by mail: CurePSP, %Cindy MacDonald, 2662 44th Street SW Naples, FL 34116-7920. Online donations may be made through the organization’s CurePSP Memorial & Awareness Walk website,, in memory of Nathetta Patterson.


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