NASELLE - The Naselle-Grays River community gave a little back to Lyle and Elaine Patterson Sunday, May 15, with a reception and potluck luncheon held in their honor.
The reception recognized the Pattersons for their 40-plus years of work in the community as coach, educators and positive members of the community. The Pattersons have recently moved to Longview after selling their Naselle home.
The reception, held in the Naselle High School commons, was organized by a loosely knit group of people including Bob Torppa, Marilyn Strange, Mike Swanson and others. A full house, including several people from out of town, attended the reception.
Master of ceremonies Chris Wirkkala, a Naselle graduate of the class of 1985, said "We are here to pay homage to their stewardship, support, and commitment to our community and to say 'thank you' for positively influencing all of our lives."
An array of ex-Comet athletes, including Torppa, Gib Haataia, Kevin McNulty and Bobbie Haataia, as well as WIAA district representative Don Koplitz of South Bend and Naselle school/coach representative Scott Smith, all echoed Wirkkala's opening thoughts.
Speakers praised the Pattersons for the things which they have done for the youth of the area as well as the community in general. In addition to focusing on the myriad of achievements Lyle accomplished as a Naselle basketball coach, each of the speakers focused on ways in which the two Pattersons have influenced the community.
Bobbie Haataia, in describing the reasons behind some of the successes which he has experienced in the business world, thanked Lyle by stating, "You have had the biggest impact on my life of anyone beyond that of my parents."
Speaking for the family, oldest son Wade Patterson thanked the large assembly of people for coming to honor his parents. The three Patterson sons, Wade, Gordon and Dwight, each have three children, giving Lyle and Elaine nine grandchildren who will now live that much closer to them. Wade concluded by saying, "Your [the Naselle community's] loss is my gain."
Lyle, in addressing the assemblage, said "One of the reasons that these kids had success was that they learned when you get knocked down, you get back up. This valley is full of that kind of people."
Patterson also praised the tutelage of Dick Grabenhorst who first hired Patterson in 1962 and then served as the Naselle-Grays River Valley Superintendent of Schools for many years. "Dick's support was vital. He was always ready to step in and help when I had to be away to a game or some activity."
Elaine thanked the community and reminded everyone of their new address and phone number as they will only be be a few miles down the road but that much closer to their kids and grandkids.