Colleen Patterson

Colleen Patterson passed away on April 5, 2023.

Colleen Patterson died in her sleep while in her home in Cottage Grove, as was her wish, April 5. She was 94 years old.

Colleen was born in Hillsboro, OR in 1928 to Michael and Elizabeth Mohr (ne Gafke), the youngest of 11 children. Her parents immigrated from Drohobycz, Galizien, then administered as part of the Austrian Empire, now a part of Western Ukraine in 1899. She grew up in Portland attending the local schools and worked as a telephone operator and as a seamstress for Jantzen Woolen Mills saving up enough money to travel to Hawaii where she supported her stay sewing shirts for servicemen.

She returned to Portland and went to work as a bank keypunch operator. It was at this time that she met John “Pat” Patterson during a bowling tournament. They married in 1956. They lived in Portland and then Tillamook for a few years, before moving to Junction City in 1960 where they remained for about 10 years, producing four children along the way. The family moved to Cottage Grove in 1969 where she and Pat settled into what would be her home of 54 years on 10th Street.

Colleen did not have a driver’s license until she was nearly 40 years old, but once she had one she put it to use driving a school bus, beginning as an activities bus driver, and then a driver for children with special needs. She would spend the next 20 years driving children to the Pearl Buck Center in Eugene, the Easter Seals School, and other facilities. She had a special gift for working with these children and formed relationships with many of them and their parents that continued today. After she retired, she continued driving, as a volunteer for the Arc, the Special Olympics, and Senior Wheels.

Colleen was an active member of her community. She was a Cub Scouts Den mother for both her sons and her grandsons and a Girl Scout Troop leader for her daughters. She took her girl scout troop on many adventures most notably trips to Wyoming and to Vancouver Island in a big gray crew-carrier-style wagon.

Her early experiences as a seamstress evolved into a serious side-business making dolls and Teddy bears, which she dressed in clothes that she often designed herself. Each one of her creations came with a “birth certificate”. She was also a skilled quiltmaker and a passionate gardener. In her 90’s, she took on the challenge of walking the entire 17 miles of the Row River Trail, doing sections in installments (some sections multiple times) with her daughters finishing the last section in 2021.

Colleen is survived by son and daughter-in-law Mike and Teresa Patterson, daughters Robin and Molly Patterson, daughter-in-law Jeanie Patterson, her grandchildren and in-laws Brendan and Laura Patterson, Jeffrey and Nikkie Patterson, Riley Patterson and Michelle Patterson as well as great-grandchildren Chase, Anneva, Reuben, Piper Jay, Tirzah and Shiloh. Colleen was preceded in death by husband Pat Patterson and her son P.J. Patterson.


Memorial Services will be held at 2:00 pm on May 27, 2023 at Shady Oaks Nursery.

In lieu of flowers please send donations to Cascade Raptors Center and/or The Opal Center for Arts and Education.