William A. (Bill) Patton, of Petersburg, VA, passed away peacefully on June 10, 2020.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years, Virginia Ginny Koeppen, whom he met and married after a whirlwind two weeks courtship; two sisters, Jessie Webster and Maude Hall; and brothers, Dale and Howard. He is survived by his four sons, Larry Duane Patton and wife, Denise Fournier, Charles Allen Patton and wife, Barbara Jean (BJ) Bogese, James Dale Patton and wife, Leslie Kilbourne, and William Allen Patton, Jr; seven grandchildren, Lindsey, Becky, Bill, Drew, Ben, Trent, and Ryan Patton; two great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
The youngest of five children, Bill was born March 23, 1926 in rural Ashe County, North Carolina to Walter McClung and Minnie Caudill Patton. His grandparents, both ministers, were Methodist Circuit Riders who conveyed their message throughout the region traveling by horseback. With his humble upbringing, Bill enjoyed sharing the story of the wife of J.P. Morgan, who communicated with his mother through church liaisons, visiting their home for a week. He described Mrs. Morgan as quite gracious, but moderately inconvenienced by the lack of electricity and the distance from the back door to the outhouse. After graduating from Lansing, N.C., high school at the age of 17, he volunteered for service in the US Navy during World War II, and served as an aviation medicine corpsman until the war ended in 1945. Following discharge he enrolled at National Business College in Roanoke, VA where he obtained a degree in Business Administration. After graduation he began a career with American Tobacco Company, followed by 5 years as a Federal bank examiner with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, in Washington, D.C. His claim to fame was nationally publicized in 1955 when he discovered a multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme at a bank in Norfolk, VA. At the time, the amount was the largest theft in U.S. history known to have been perpetrated by a woman, and the events were later chronicled into a training primer titled Miss Minnies Millions for use by bank examiners. Shortly thereafter, he was offered a position as President of Petersburg Building and Loan Incorporated, serving as CEO and later Chairman of what became Virginia First Savings Bank until the merger of the company with BB&T Corporation in 1997.
Bills life as a devoted husband and father was combined with his commitment to work and community service. His business affiliations were extensive, including serving as Chairman of the Virginia League of Savings Institutions where he also chaired the Legislative Committee and co-authored with attorney Garland Harward a rewriting of the Code of Virginia regulating savings institutions, Chairman of the Southeastern League of Savings Institutions, Director of the United States League of Savings Institutions, Director of BB&T’s Virginia State Board of Directors, and Chairman of Data Systems Corporation, a cooperative he organized which provided data servicing capabilities for community banks. His community service emphasized the city of Petersburg where he served as Chairman of the Petersburg Industrial Authority, President of the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, organizer and first Chairman of Citizens for Progress, organizer and first Chairman of the Petersburg Economic Action Corporation, President of the Historic Petersburg Foundation, and Chairman of the Petersburg General Hospital Authority (now Bon Secours).
Of his local efforts, he was most proud of chairing the capital committee and ultimately overseeing construction of the Petersburg YMCA. His positive mark will be left in many places, as he was not only a dreamer but also a doer. Despite the foregoing list of activities he and Ginny found time to travel extensively, visiting over 100 countries, and all seven continents. He has now traveled to the ULTIMATE DESTINATION but will be greatly missed. Regrettably, due to current virus restrictions and consideration for the health of others, services will be private at graveside. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Virginia K. Patton, Scholarship Fund, Richard Bland College or to your favorite charity.
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