North to Alaska

In 1960, Johnny Horton's song “North to Alaska” hit the charts. Two years later, Patrick traded hot Texas summers on the family ranch for snowy mountains and 40 below weather in Fairbanks. Preston & Billie Ruth Cooper from Lytle took Patrick under their wings as he enrolled in the University of Alaska and worked for Billie Ruth in the Data Processing Center. During the move, Patrick gained five adopted sisters who took turns reshaping his winter sweaters.

Uncle Sam called Patrick in 1966 and said “there is a small problem in Viet Nam and we need a few good men in our infantry and we're looking forward to your joining us.” Patrick got the attention of his drill instructors during basic as he placed first in his company for the “monkey bars” and last place for the “grenade throw.” Now you know why the baseball coach never scouted for Patrick.

Following Patrick's adventures in the Army, he returned to Alaska to work for RCA Service Company contracted by Clear Air Force Station. Clear is a Ballistic Missile Early Warning Site located 70 miles from Fairbanks, just outside of Denali Park. He had a dual job; working as an Accounting Machine Operator & Programmer getting out a bi-weekly payroll and as a Recreational Director in charge of the intramural sports, ordering the movies for the base theatre and organizing all the social activities.

Alaska was desparate for entertainment so Patrick hooked up with some former professional dance instructors who lived in Clear and Fairbanks. While working on his dancing skills, Patrick helped organize a group that provided entertainment at various social events throughout the Fairbanks area. This photo is of Patrick and Suzanne Greenburg performing in the play Mary Poppins.

Organizing the social activities at Clear AFS often overlapped with teaching dance and performing. Men outnumbered women in Alaska 7 to 1, so this photo shows Patrick desperate for a partner as he asks Martha for a dance to advertise the “George Washington Ball.” Patrick introduced a new dancer partner at the ball, Marilla Manuel. She was a very talented partner who kept everyone alert with her humor and contagious laugh.

The Fairbanks flood in 1967 was devastating. Patrick flew into Fairbanks to help evacuate his adopted family. Several months later, Fairbanks celebrated their recovery with a formal dinner dance. Huntley & Brinkley News Report aired the event nationally as the first social event since the flood. Patrick's family, sharing their evening meal back in Texas, sat anxiously behind their TV trays with great interest. About that time, Patrick and Marilla danced across the screen for about six seconds with his family “spitting supper, screaming, and gasping for air.” Then Patrick appeared onscreen for another four seconds as he and Terri Washburn O'Brien toasted champagne. That was just too much excitement back on the ranch! The cows didn't give milk the next day, and the chickens didn't lay eggs for a week!

Toasting champagne with Terri at the Flood Social started a new interest. Terri was Fairbanks' Miss Hospitality welcoming visiting VIP's for the mayor's office. She set up many of the fashion shows for the downtown merchants and was director for the Miss Alaska/Universe Pagaents. Trading talents, Patrick taught Terri to dance and perform while Terri taught Patrick how to snow ski and roll down a hill.

Patrick and Anna Maria Morrison take to the floor to perform a soft shoe routine at the Clear AFS NCO/Officer's Club. The thumbnails include photos and articles on a musical, Christmas Fantasy, written and directed by Patrick. The play involved the military and civilian personnel along with their families and was performed in Clear at the base theatre and in Fairbanks at Alaskaland and the Pioneer's Retirement Home. Excerpts of the musical were later performed at Nevada's Miss Sierra Snowflake Pagaent in Incline Village at the King's Castle Hotel & Casino.

“All My Exes Live In Texas,” that's not quite true for Patrick. Enter Heather Lynn Whitton. Patrick taught Heather and her two sisters, Janice and Monica, to dance and to perform. Heather was crowned Miss Clear in 1969 and placed first runner-up to Miss Alaska. Through rough times Heather has always kept a special place in Patrick's heart and they have always remained friends.

Patrick was appointed Director and Choreographer of the Miss Alaska/Universe Pagaents in 1971. This photo is of Patrick and the reigning Miss Alaska, Kathy Hartman. Patrick and Kathy spent the year performing at various social activities, organizing other pagaents, and setting up fashion shows for fundraisers. They traveled to Lake Tahoe to entertain in Nevada's Miss Sierra Snowflake Pagaent where Patrick choreographed the pagaent and directed Adam West, the original Batman, as the Master of Ceremonies. Often included were Susan Kiser, Miss Clear, and Amelia Byrd, Miss Fairbanks. Two of the highlights of Kathy's reign were when she shared the stage with Comedian Bob Hope during his 1971 USO Tour of Alaska and when she placed first in the State Costume segment of the Miss Universe Pagaent in 1971.

Pat Lane, Miss Alaska/Universe 1972, was talented, beautiful, intelligent and was from the sunny state of Texas. Pat Lane, Patrick and Ruth Ann Knabe, Miss Nenana and First Runner-Up to Miss Alaska, shared the spotlight as they entertained throughout America's Last Frontier. Patrick had the honor of directing James MacArthur from the TV series Hawaii Five-o in the 1972 Pagaent as the Master of Ceremonies. Pat Lane finalized her year placing first in the state costume segment in the Miss Universe Pagaent 1972 and placed in the top ten during the bathing suit competition.