GREENFIELD — When John Patton first ran for Greenfield City Council in 2011, he knew from the start it would be an uphill battle. It was his first time seeking elected office, and his opponent at the time was looking for a fourth term and seemed to have the advantage.
But Patton never let that deter him, friend Brandee Bastin told the Daily Reporter this week. He pounded the pavement with his supporters and knocked on every door he passed, even late into the night on the eve of Election Day.
Patton won the District 3 seat by just nine votes in that first election, Bastin said, and always credited the victory to that last minute push, knowing that every handshake with neighbors made a difference.
Patton, who was serving his second term on council, died unexpectedly Tuesday morning in his Greenfield home.
Friends said he’d struggled for many years with heart-related health issues but always seemed to fight back with the same drive and determination he brought to every venture.
He leaves behind three grown children and three grandchildren.
Patton first moved to Greenfield in 2006, and in the years that followed, he gained recognition for the volunteer work he did through Greenfield homeowners associations and the Hancock County Republican Party.
He built a career in radio and newspaper industries and retired as the advertising director of the Daily Reporter.
Patton was first elected in 2012 to represent residents living in the city’s third district, which encompasses neighborhoods west of State Road 9 and north of Mackenzie Road. He earned a second term on the council in 2015 after running for re-election unopposed during both the primary and general elections.
In his first term, Patton served as president of the council and threw his hat into the ring for a mayoral appointment by a Republican Party caucus following the death of former Mayor Dick Pasco in 2013.
Bastin said she first met Patton about seven years ago through his work with the county’s young republican’s organization, to which he served as an adviser helping to shepherd young residents into local politics.
He was a one-of-a-kind teacher with a heart of gold, Bastin said; he never wavered from his convictions and encouraged those around him to do the same.
“He has a strong drive to do what he felt was right,” Bastin said. “A lot of the time, people disagreed with him, but that’s what made him so special. He stood up for what he believed in.”
Patton was always ready to help revive causes he believed made Greenfield a better place for its residents, friends said. Whether he came right out and said it or made sure it was implied, Patton answered every call from community member with an offer to lend a hand.
“He always answered the phone by saying, “This is John; what do you need?” friend C.O. Montgomery said. “He stepped right up and helped.”
In 2012, Patton helped breathe new life into the Hancock County Character Council, a decades-old organization with the mission of creating a dialogue about values in schools, businesses and among community members.
Most recently, Patton banded together with a group of Greenfield residents to save a popular downtown eatery from shuttering its doors.
After SoupHerb’s owner, Suzanne Kosovich, announced plans to close the Greenfield restaurant last summer, a group of interested residents came forward with a proposal to relocate the business while preserving its theme and signature soup and sandwich dishes.
They successfully relocated the restaurant and expanded its hours.
On the city council, Patton took his duties seriously, and he represented his constituents — all 4,230 of them — well, said Mayor Chuck Fewell. Every vote Patton cast was in favor of what he believed was best for Greenfield, Fewell said.
If a resident had a concern, Patton often set up a time to meet with Fewell and other city leaders to address the problem and try to find a solution, Fewell said.
“I just found John to be a very loyal and dedicated public servant,” Fewell said.
On Wednesday, the city council met as planned, despite the absence of one of its members. A Republican Party caucus will be responsible for appointing someone to fulfill the remaining three years of Patton’s term.
“I think John would have wanted the city’s business to be conducted,” Fewell said.