Raymond D. Patterson, former state official and manager of community affairs for Sports Backers, dies at 69

8/26/2016, 7:37 a.m.
Raymond D. Patterson received a second chance and made the most of it. After pleading guilty to felony misuse of ...

Raymond D. Patterson received a second chance and made the most of it.

After pleading guilty to felony misuse of public funds as a state official in the early 1990s, Mr. Patterson rebounded to become a key figure in staging big sporting events in the city, including the fall Anthem Richmond Marathon and the spring Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K.

Since 2006, he worked behind the scenes with police, fire, emergency services and other area government agencies to ensure the events ran smoothly in serving as manager of community affairs for the regional nonprofit Sports Backers organization.

“It was a perfect role for Ray because he seemed to know just about everyone in the Greater Richmond region and got along with them all,” according to a post on the Sports Backers website.

He also became the point of contact for churches, businesses and residents along the event’s routes, becoming known for his ability to overcome potential obstacles.

According to Sports Backers, he often “would solve problems that couldn’t be solved with a bouquet of flowers or a dozen donuts. … On more than one occasion, he dealt with a panicked bride or groom who suddenly realized they had planned a wedding at a church on Monument Avenue the same day as the 10K.

“He was a calming influence and was able to find solutions that worked for everyone.”

His work for the community was cited after he died at home on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, following a battle with brain cancer.

Family and friends celebrated his life Saturday, Aug. 20, at First Baptist Church of South Richmond.

A Richmond native, Mr. Patterson graduated from Maggie L. Walker High School and went on to a career in finance after earning an undergraduate degree in accounting from Hampton University and a master’s of business administration from the College of William & Mary.

He worked on money matters and in management for a variety of organizations and also operated his own business consulting firm.

In 1988, Mr. Patterson was part of the original senior leadership team when the Virginia Lottery started. “His strong work ethic, ‘can do’ spirit and unflappable manner were all admired and appreciated by his colleagues,” according Paula Otto, the state lottery’s current executive director.

Following the election of L. Douglas Wilder as governor in 1989, Mr. Patterson joined the administration as director of general services where he oversaw state procurement and building construction.

However, he was fired in October 1993, near the end of Gov. Wilder’s term after a state probe into cost overruns on a building project turned up evidence that Mr. Patterson had used about $6,000 in state funds to pay for personal expenses.

A year later, after Gov. George F. Allen took office, Mr. Patterson was indicted on felony charges, a rare instance of a public official being charged after reimbursing the state. He pleaded guilty in January 1995 to illegally using $977.99 in state funds in exchange for a suspended 10-year prison sentence.

He operated a business consulting firm as he rebuilt his life until he joined Sports Backers.

Along with managing events for the organization, Mr. Patterson became an advocate for healthy living.

He was described as a tireless promoter of community fitness programs such as Kids Run RVA and Fitness Warriors and is credited with using his relationships to encourage churches and community centers to create marathon training teams.

Mr. Patterson’s death comes less than a month after his wife, Shirley W. Patterson, died on Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

Survivors include his sons, Raymond D. Patterson Jr. and Rhayshad Patterson; his daughter, Rhea Patterson-Cano; his brother, Charles D. Patterson; and two grandchildren.