Danny L. Patrick

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Danny Lee Patrick (July 8, 1941 - July 26, 2009) was an educator and farmer who served as a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1967 to 1970. Patrick served two two-year terms from Madison and Carroll counties in northwestern Arkansas.[1] His tenure coincided with that of Winthrop Rockefeller, Arkansas' first GOP governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction. Like Rockefeller, Patrick was defeated in his bid for a third term in the 1970 general election, in which the Democrats, led by gubernatorial candidate, Dale Bumpers of Franklin County, also in northwestern Arkansas, wiped out the gains that Republicans had accrued during the Rockefeller interlude.


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Arkansas politics, 1966-1970

Patrick was born to Dan Ervin Patrick (1912-1971) and the former Audie M. Van Brunt (1916-1997)[2] in the unincorporated community of Delaney near Huntsville, the seat of Madison County. Orval E. Faubus, the state's Democratic governor from 1955 to 1967, was also from Madison County. Patrick was personally friendly with both Rockefeller and Faubus, who were political rivals in Arkansas during the 1960s. When Rockefeller was governor, Representative Patrick frequently attended meetings in the governor's offices in both the state capitol in Little Rock and at WinRock Farms in nearby Morrilton in Conway County. And Patrick recalls having met Faubus many times over the years beginning when Patrick was still a young boy. "I loved him", says Patrick of Faubus.[3] Patrick supported Republican Governor Frank D. White's decision in 1981 to hire Faubus as the head of the Arkansas Veterans Affairs Department, an appointment that drew the opposition of several former Rockefeller Republicans, such as Leona Troxell of Rose Bud in White County.[4]

To win his legislative seat, Patrick twice defeated the Democrat (and former "Faubus Republican") F. A. "Pat" Teague 1904-1975), a turkey farmer from Berryville in the newly-formed District 2 (Madison and Carroll counties). Teague was the previous incumbent for Carroll County. He was sixty-two years old in his 1966 race against the 25-year-old Patrick and had been an Arkansas delegate to the 1952 Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.[5] Patrick defeated Teague by only thirty-three votes in 1966 and by some three hundred ballots in 1968. In 1970, when Rockefeller was crushed for a third term, Patrick, then twenty-nine, was unseated by the Democrat Stephen A. Smith (born 1949), who received 54 percent of the vote.[6]

In 1966, Patrick had been the youngest person ever elected to the Arkansas legislature. Four years later, 21-year Stephen Smith had not only unseated Patrick but taken the "youngest legislator" appellation for himself.[7] In the campaign, Smith had challenged Patrick for having been "absent or not voting” on 263 recorded roll calls during the past legislative session. Smith later wrote that this issue was "a cheap shot, but an effective one. It was probably about average for all legislators, and most of the votes were on minor amendments or budget bills that had passed without opposition." Smith estimated that Patrick outspent him, with support from Rockefeller funds, by eighty-to-one. Smith later worked in the George McGovern presidential campaign in Arkansas; in 1979 he became the executive assistant to newly-elected Governor Bill Clinton. When Clinton was defeated for reelection in 1980, Smith left active politics for a career in college teaching. [8]

Patrick once described himself as "young and country" when he went to the legislature but "learned a great deal quickly". He determined Rockefeller to have been "far more knowledgeable than people gave him credit" and a man motivated by what was best for his adopted state.[3] Patrick was one of only three House Republicans in the first Rockefeller term -- the others were George E. Nowotny, Jr., of Fort Smith, the seat of Sebastian County in western Arkansas, and Jim Sheets of Siloam Springs in Benton County. During Patrick's second term, there was also a Republican in the Arkansas State Senate, Jim Caldwell of Rogers, also in Benton County in northwestern Arkansas. Hence the legislature was at least 97 percent Democratic during much of Rockefeller's tenure.

Educational career

Patrick obtained bachelor's, master's, and specialist degrees in professional education from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. From 1964-1971, he was a science teacher and basketball coach in Huntsville.[7] The school district allowed Patrick generous personal leave for his legislative duties. For a time, he was a colleague of Farrell Faubus, the son of Orval and Alta Haskins Faubus. [9]

From 1971 to 1987, Patrick was the superintendent of the small St. Paul School in southwestern Madison County.[7] In Arkansas, public schools are decentralized; each community normally has its separate independent school district unless it agrees to a merger plan with an adjoining system. On leaving the superintendency, Patrick joined the administration of the vocational school now known as Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale, Arkansas. For two years, he directed truck driving instruction, through which capacity he was responsible for the training of drivers for interstate companies, including the locally-based J. B. Hunt Company.[3]

From 1989 until his retirement from public education in 1996, Patrick was superintendent for the Winslow School District[7] in Washington County, Arkansas. The Winslow district was consolidated with Greenland schools in 2004 and renamed the "Greenland School District". Patrick was also a school board member in St. Paul after he vacated the superintendency.[10]

In 2005, Patrick was elected, 453-107, to a combined seven-member school board created by the consolidation of the St. Paul and Huntsville schools.[3] In Arkansas, school boards are elected on nonpartisan ballots. He also served on the Washington and Madison County Drug Court Advisory Board.[7]

Personal life

Patrick also operated a tax preparer business from his home in Delaney.[7] With his son and brother, both named Jerry, Patrick farmed some five hundred acres off Arkansas Highway 16 in Madison County near Elkins.[3][11] He was an avid rock and roll piano player and camper.[7]


In addition to his son, Jerry Lee Patrick (born c. 1966), Patrick also had a daughter, Tonya Lucille Patrick Taylor, from his first marriage to Katherine O'Neal "Kathy" Patrick, from whom he was divorced. Tonya and her husband, Warner H. Taylor (born 1953), are attorneys in Fayetteville.[12]

Patrick died unexpectedly at the age of sixty-eight in the hospital in Springdale, Arkansas, of a sudden infection which developed while he had been camping nearby with his wife, the former Joyce Ann Leslie (born 1940).[13] Patrick was a member of the Church of Christ. Services were held on July 30, 2009 at the St. Paul High School gymnasium. He is interred at the Patrick Cemetery in Madison County, Arkansas.[7]

References

  1. Arkansas House of Representatives: kaye@arkleg.state.ar.us
  2. Social Security Death Index
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Statement of Danny Lee Patrick, June 2007
  4. Arkansas Gazette, August 5, 1981; Troxell, later Leona Troxell Dodd was defeated in her 1974 race for lieutenant governor by the Democrat Joe Purcell, who was the acting Arkansas governor for six days in January 1979.
  5. The previous representative from Madison County was Democrat Ralph Buck (1912-1976).
  6. "Election Statistics, 1966, 1968, and 1970 (Little Rock, Arkansas: Secretary of State)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Danny Lee Patrick. findagrave.com. Retrieved on May 31, 2012.
  8. Stephen A. Smith, University of Arkansas, ”People, Power, and Realpoliticks in the Provinces”. acjournal.org. Retrieved on May 31, 2012.
  9. Farrell Faubus (1939-1976) left teaching to procure a law degree but committed suicide while combating drug addiction in Seattle, Washington.
  10. Greenland Teachers. nwaonline.net. Retrieved on May 31, 2012.
  11. Danny Patrick. tributes.com. Retrieved on May 31, 2012.
  12. Taylor Law Firm. lawyers.com. Retrieved on May 31, 2012.
  13. Statement of Joyce Leslie Patrick, June 2010
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