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 Eugene Corbett “Gene” Patterson

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Eugene Corbett “Gene” Patterson

  • Birth 15 Oct 1923 Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, USA
  • Death 12 Jan 2013 Saint Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida, USA
  • Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
  • Plot Section 4, Site 6005-LH
  • Memorial ID 103548372

Journalist, Civil Rights Activist. He is best remembered for winning a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 1967 while serving as the editor of the Atlanta Constitution. Raised on a farm, he began his writing career as the editor of the campus newspaper while enrolled at North Georgia College in Dahlongea, Georgia. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a journalism degree in 1943, he joined the US Army and participated in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II as a tank platoon commander in General George S. Patton's Third Army. He remained in the Army as a pilot after the end of World War II but left in 1947 to embark on a journalism career. After working as a reporter for the Temple Daily Telegram in Texas and The Macon Telegraph in Georgia, he joined the United Press, working in Atlanta, Georgia in 1948, New York City, New York in 1949, and in London, England from 1953 to 1956 as its bureau chief. He was then appointed vice president and executive editor of The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. It was in this capacity that he wrote his most famous Pulitzer prize winning column, "A Flower for the Graves," about the death of the four black girls who were killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963. When Walter Cronkite read it, he was so moved that he asked him to read it on the "CBS Evening News." He also actively opposed America's involvement in the Vietnam War and supported draft resisters. In 1964, he was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as the vice chairman of the US Commission on Civil Rights. In 1968, he joined The Washington Post as its managing editor and, along with the New York Times, published the Pentagon Papers, a secret study of American duplicity in Indochina, in June 1971. The Nixon administration challenged these publications but the US Supreme Court, in a historic ruling, struck down the challenge. Later in 1971 he left the Post to teach at Duke University and the following year he became editor of the Saint Petersburg Times (now known as the Tampa Bay Times) and its two sister publications, the Saint Petersburg Evening Independent and Congressional Quarterly. In 1978, he became the company's chairman until his retirement in 1988. He served as the President of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1977 and 1978, and from 1974 to 1985 he served on Columbia's Pulitzer Prize Board. A collection of his columns for The Atlanta Constitution was published in 2002 entitled "The Changing South of Gene Patterson: Journalism and Civil Rights, 1960-1968." He was also the author of "Patton's Unsung Armor of the Ardennes: The Tenth Armored Division's Secret Dash to Bastogne" (2008). He was inducted into the International Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2010. He died of complications from cancer.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


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Gravesite Details Interred March 13, 2013

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: William Bjornstad
  • Added: 14 Jan 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 103548372
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Eugene Corbett “Gene” Patterson (15 Oct 1923–12 Jan 2013), Find A Grave Memorial no. 103548372, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .