Former Arlington Councilman Gene Patrick dies at 72

Posted Sunday, Sep. 09, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON -- Gene Patrick, a longtime Arlington City Council member and a staunch supporter of downtown revitalization and the arts, died Saturday. He was 72.

Mr. Patrick served as the at-large District 8 City Council representative from 2003 until November, when he was forced to resign for health reasons.

Friends called Mr. Patrick a gifted musician and tireless community volunteer whose creativity, enthusiasm and love for Arlington created a better city for all.

"He loved Arlington. He wouldn't live anywhere else. He wouldn't serve anywhere else," friend and fellow council member Kathryn Wilemon said. "The city is better off for his service. He was such a leader. We are going to miss him terribly."

Mr. Patrick, who was born in Cleburne, moved with his family to Arlington in 1951 and graduated from Arlington High School.

After attending Arlington State College, now the University of Texas at Arlington, he began working with the Great Southwest Corp. as an original member of the Six Flags Over Texas creative staff.

In the next 30 years, Mr. Patrick was involved in many theme park and entertainment projects, including the Astrodome, an indoor theme park in China and creation of the second Six Flags theme park in Atlanta.

He moved back from California to Texas in 1985, after retiring as creative director for Marriott's Great America Parks. The family had been looking for homes in other North Texas cities, but Mr. Patrick was set on returning to Arlington to open his own production company.

"It was always in his heart. He loved being back here," said Penny Patrick, his wife of 43 years. "He said it was a great place growing up."

Mr. Patrick, who owned GP Show Productions and Showtek Corp., was known as an expert in design, costuming and animation in show production. His clients included 10 national theme parks, such as Six Flags Over Texas and Hershey's Chocolate World, as well as the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

Before being elected to the council in 2003, Mr. Patrick served on the Downtown Arlington Revitalization Committee, three years as president of the original Downtown Arlington Inc. and then three terms on the Planning and Zoning Commission. He and other community leaders helped draft a long-term master plan for the revitalization of downtown.

"Arlington citizens were fortunate to have Gene looking out for their best interests," Mayor Robert Cluck said. "He loved this city and he loved his family. We are all better people for having known Gene Patrick."

Seeing downtown becoming a thriving destination with new housing, shops and restaurants and a successful university was one of Mr. Patrick's passions, friends said. Even though he was no longer on the council, he actively followed both private and public projects planned for downtown.

On Friday, Mr. Patrick told the Star-Telegram that he supported a proposal to narrow Abram Street through downtown to help make the area more pedestrian-friendly. The city is studying whether the four-lane thoroughfare should be narrowed when it is rebuilt with bond money in 2015.

"The walking traffic and the car traffic through there is important to everybody," Mr. Patrick said. "Let's make that thing function for everybody."

Mr. Patrick also served on the boards of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber Foundation, the Arlington Community Band, Theatre Arlington, the Arlington Museum of Art and the American Heart Association.

"He loved to work. He wasn't in it for the glory," his friend Randal Rose said. "He was in it for the satisfaction serving his community, which he cared for deeply."

Shortly after being re-elected to his fifth council term in May 2011, Mr. Patrick was hospitalized after complications with his pacemaker and again for colon cancer surgery and treatment of an ensuing infection. He told the Star-Telegram on Friday that he was still undergoing treatment but had been feeling better.

Mr. Patrick became a member of First United Methodist Church of Arlington at age 11 and remained deeply involved throughout his life. Besides singing in the choir and playing trumpet, Mr. Patrick was the person the church turned to arrange music for holidays and special occasions.

"For congregations like ours, music really reflects the emotional side of worship," said the Rev. David Mosser. "Gene had a sense of that. There is a real celebration and a joy before God and the thanksgiving before God that music helps people express."

In 1999, Mr. Patrick and his wife announced they would buy the Chamber of Commerce's building on Main Street to help the chamber began building a new office complex. They then donated space to Theatre Arlington.

"Gene was a great big supporter of the arts. It was always a part of our lives," Penny Patrick said.

Other survivors include six children and four grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were pending late Saturday.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock

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