The Patterson Family History
The Patterson Foundation’s wealth is traced to an entrepreneurial family who made strategic investments in communications and technology. Their innovative spirit today enables us to connect and make a difference.
James J. (Jim) Patterson, husband of The Patterson Foundation founder Dorothy Patterson, was the great-grandson of media entrepreneur Joseph Medill, who invested in the failing The Chicago Tribune in 1847. With vision and business acumen, Mr. Medill and his partners quickly turned the enterprise around.
Mr. Medill’s grandsons, Colonel Robert McCormick and Captain Joseph Patterson, followed their grandfather into the journalism business, taking on editorial and then leadership positions at The Chicago Tribune. In 1919, Captain Patterson founded The Daily News in New York City, which was one of the first newspapers to extensively use photography and comics to attract readers.
The two cousins shared an entrepreneurial mindset and embraced the new media innovations of their day, securing the first radio and television broadcast licenses in Chicago and New York City. The Chicago Tribune continued to serve as a media pioneer, investing in America Online at the beginning of the Internet age and adopting a new advertising revenue model by creating CareerBuilder.com and Cars.com.
A Legacy For Good
Captain Patterson married Mary King, who was the first female editor of The Chicago Tribune. Jim Patterson was their only child.
Jim Patterson met his future wife Dorothy, whose father was a prison guard at Sing Sing, when they were teenagers attending St. Augustine School. They began dating in high school and married after Jim Patterson graduated from West Point. Captain Patterson gave the young couple a home as a wedding gift, which they later donated to the Catholic Church.
Jim Patterson served with distinction in the U.S. Army during World War II, rising to the rank of captain during service in Europe and Japan. Following his military service, Jim Patterson joined The Daily News, rising from a Washington bureau reporter position to eventually assume the role of vice president and assistant managing editor. He maintained a lifelong love of photography as well as an enthusiasm for aviation, history, sailing and sports, donating $1 million to the cost of a sports stadium at West Point.
Dorothy and Jim Patterson did not have children, but they enjoyed spending time with their 10 nieces and nephews, passing along their love of the arts and taking the children to see plays on Broadway and Carnegie Hall performances. Dorothy Patterson was an avid fundraiser and volunteer throughout her life, working at St. Agnes’ Children’s Hospital and supporting the Sisters of the Sick and Poor at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, where the Pattersons were married.
The Pattersons retired to Longboat Key near Sarasota, Florida in 1979. Both became enthusiastic and generous benefactors to the local community. Jim Patterson died in 1992, leaving the family’s vast wealth to his wife. Dorothy Patterson, who came from humble beginnings and never felt that the wealth was truly hers, was committed to the idea of using the family’s resources to help others.
This inspired Dorothy Patterson to establish The Patterson Foundation. Today, we honor the spirit of the Patterson family by embracing innovation and using business-like skills to advance philanthropic causes to create New Realities. Like the Patterson family, we strive to see things not as they are, but as they could be.