Shawnee resident Helen Patterson will celebrate her 100th birthday with a party in her honor on Saturday, Sept. 10.
Helen was born Sept. 11, 1916 in Taloga, Oklahoma.
When she was 5 years old, her mother became very ill and died. Although Helen’s older brother continued to live with their father, at her mother’s request, Helen went to live with Aunt Elin and Uncle Johnnie, dear friends of the family.
Aunt Elin and Uncle Johnnie took good care of Helen. They loved her as their own. Helen went to Taloga schools and to the local Baptist church with them. The family had a garden and fruit trees. They raised chickens and had a cow to provide milk, cream and butter. As a child, Helen brought in kindling firewood, fed chickens and gathered eggs. Aunt Elin would read aloud from the Bible each morning after breakfast and in the evening would read from various books. The lighting was from kerosene coal oil lamps and sometimes a gas lamp that gave more light. The water came from a hand pump outside. There was no refrigerator, but the cellar was used to keep some foods cool. Helen would still see her father when she would stop in going to and from school. When her father was younger, he had lost a leg in an accident. From the wool pant leg cut off of his pants, Aunt Elin would make Helen a jumper or two-piece sailor dress for winter. Uncle Johnnie and her father liked to fish together, so the families would sometimes picnic and camp together. Not until Helen’s high school years did they have electricity and a radio.
During Helen’s senior year in high school, she was on the way home from school one day and stopped at the post office. There was a card in the mail telling about a revival. The preacher who was coming was bringing a young man, Lester Patterson, who would be leading the singing and doing “chalk talks.” (A “chalk talk” was a chalk drawing done to illustrate a song while it was being played). Helen said that when she read the card, she knew that he was the one. She was engaged at the time and broke her engagement. Lester later told about the first time he met Helen in the aisle of the church; he knew then he was going to marry her. In the Spring of 1934, Helen graduated from high school. In late June, Lester and Helen married. From that day forward, Lester and Helen served together in ministry for almost 70 years. Lester passed away in 2004, just 3 months before their 70th anniversary.
During their early years of ministry, Lester both pastored and did bi-vocational ministry, leading music, doing chalk drawings, and preaching. He pastored in several smaller Western Oklahoma towns and later churches in Guthrie, Marshall, and Mulhall. During that time, the family grew from two to 10 as eight children were born to this union, seven daughters and one son. In 1955, Lester was asked by the associational missionary about the possibility of coming to serve at the Kingfisher Indian Baptist Church. Later in 1955, Lester was called as pastor and moved the family to Kingfisher. At that time, the oldest of the eight children had begun her college work at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU). Lester and Helen served in Kingfisher from late 1955 to early 1962. During that time, Helen provided kindergarten classes at the church for 4, 5, and 6 year olds, some of whom are still in touch with her today. There were also many children and young people who spent time and/or lived with the Pattersons at their home in Kingfisher. Some were from local communities, such as Kingfisher, Watonga, and Canton; some were summer mission workers; and some were from other states and countries, college friends of their daughters. In addition to Helen’s kindness to those who spent time in their home, she is most often remembered for her delicious homemade bread!
In March of 1962, the Kingfisher Indian Baptist Church’s financial support was shifted from the local FBC to the Home Mission Board (HMB). Lester was to resign so that one of the HMB missionaries could be moved to the field. Those years in Kingfisher had been precious to the Pattersons.
In April 1962, Lester was asked to come for a School of Missions in south Louisiana. One of the churches where he spoke was Barataria Baptist Church, in Lafitte, Louisiana. Following his visit, the church asked him to come and serve as pastor. In June 1962, Lester and Helen and the four youngest children moved to Lafitte, Louisiana. The four older daughters were attending college that fall in Oklahoma, three at OBU and one at a nursing school in Enid, OK. Lester and Helen served at the Louisiana church from 1962 until 1968. Helen was teacher, pianist, women’s and children’s missions organization leader, mother, homemaker, and hostess to many. The people of Barataria Baptist Church were truly a church “family,” supporting them and encouraging them in so many ways.
While in Louisiana, Lester was contacted about returning to Native American mission work in Oklahoma. After going through the application and evaluation process, Lester and Helen were appointed to the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board). In October of 1968, they moved to Carnegie, Oklahoma, where Lester served as pastor of Carnegie Indian Baptist. The Pattersons were at the Carnegie church until 1972, when they accepted a call from the Cooper Memorial Indian Baptist Church in McLoud, Oklahoma.
While still pastoring in McLoud, the couple moved to Shawnee in 1992, and had been to and from Shawnee for many years prior to that with daughters attending OBU and with meetings, hospital visits, seminary extension courses and Bro. Patterson's involvement with the Franklin Graham Crusade in Shawnee.
Lester and Helen served together at McLoud until Bro. Patterson’s death in 2004. While at the Cooper Memorial Church, Helen also served as the Pottawatomie-Lincoln Associational WMU Director for a number of years. Through the years, she continued to welcome others to their home, some for a day and some for weeks at a time. Helen has completed many hours of Bible study courses and missions training and, in turn, has taught many in Bible study and missions. She has been pianist, organist, and piano teacher and supported her husband and the church in ways too numerous to mention.
After her husband’s passing, Helen joined the Sallateeska Baptist Church. She has been a faithful member and serves in missions work and as organist at the church. Her church family has been wonderful in providing love and support to her and in helping her continue to live and serve in Shawnee.
Helen’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren want to honor her and her many years of service to Christ as they celebrate her 100th birthday.
A reception will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. (come and go) on September 10, 2016 at the OBU Cargill Center (formerly the OBU President’s house), 670 W. MacArthur Drive, Shawnee. Friends and family are all invited to stop in and wish Helen a Happy 100th Birthday!