When Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick’s elected term ends in 2016, he will have served continuously in public service office for 41 consecutive years.
“It slips up on you,” noted the mayor. “Time moves fast, especially through the good times of life.
“I’ll be 69 years old in 2016, and will not seek another election,” Patrick predicted. “When I step down, that’s more than 40 years in a public service elective office. … I’ve loved it, but 41 consecutive years, that’s enough.”
Patrick was first elected in 1975, when Cannon County voters elected him to the Cannon County Commission.
“And they re-elected me to the Commission in 1978,” Patrick added.
Six years later in 1986, Patrick was elected County Executive of the Cannon County Commission, following 11 years as a commissioner, defeating a local political legend, Nolan “Dude” Northcutt, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday.
“That’s when Harold Patrick decided it was time for me to retire,” Mr. Northcutt said recently while recalling that long-ago election with a smile.
“Dude and I were friends then, and remain best friends now,” Patrick assessed.
Born the son of Pleasant Ridge farm parents, White and Christine Mayo Patrick, Harold Patrick grew up in the shadow of Short Mountain and later attend high school in Woodbury.
He has a brother, Buford, 72, who resides at Petersburg, Tenn. He lost a little brother, Dale, who died at age 3 of pneumonia.
But long before his cycle of public office elections, the Patrick name was well-known in Woodbury, but also in places like Burt, Gassaway, West Side and Bradyville, some of the more rural communities of Cannon County.
“That happened because I broadcast Cannon County High School football and basketball games for 40 years over WBRY Radio,” Patrick vocalized back in time. “I suppose broadcasting put me in touch with just about every student athlete and their families in our community.”
Was it “for money” that he did all that travelling to broadcast late-night games on often snow- and ice-covered roads?
“I think the most I ever got for a game was $25, so when you travel to places like Sparta and Baxter, and high up in the mountains of east Tennessee, you’re not covering your gasoline and meal costs,” Patrick itemized. “But, promoting our schools and the boys and girls were payment enough.”
His journey through life has touched thousands.
“With his broadcast years, Harold Patrick touched all our lives, especially those of us who played sports at good ol’ Woodbury Central High and Auburntown High,” noted former high school athlete Bobby Womack of Woodbury. “We can’t measure the good times and memories that Harold Patrick helped create for us.”
Patrick paid some broadcast dues in more ways than one!
“I remember doing some of those broadcasts out in the open, standing on a hillside, with rain, sleet or snow pelting us,” Patrick recalled. “In my early days and nights of sports broadcasting, we’d tape the games and then broadcast the game on WBRY Radio on Saturday mornings.”
Retired Cannon County Superintendent of Schools Joe Davenport knows the grueling schedule that political people experience during election years.
“I was elected superintendent for two terms, 1980 through 1988, and yes, it’s a grueling experience, running for public office. But, it’s an exhilarating time, running for public office,” Davenport assessed. “It’s not likely that any public official in Cannon County can match serving 41 consecutive years. It’s a very remarkable achievement.”
The 77-year-old retired educator noted “Patrick is more than just an elected official.”
“The 40 years that Harold Patrick announced our schools’ sporting events are just as remarkable. What he did in broadcasting was create memories that will live forever in the hearts and minds of not only the student athletes, the cheerleaders, plus the families and fans,” Davenport accounted.
“And not one time did Harold degrade an athlete or coach, no matter the won-loss record. I, along with thousands of other appreciative residents, give Harold Patrick an ‘A-plus’ for his dedication to our citizens, whether as an elected official or as a sportscaster.”
Although Patrick played some sports in his own school days, that’s not what got him “elected” to the Cannon County Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame two years ago was a big surprise,” Patrick accounted, before recalling one long painful drive to broadcast a football game up in the Smokey Mountains.
“I loved every minute of broadcasting, except one unforgettable long cold winter night when we drove, drove and drove some more, to the other side of Knoxville,” Patrick added. “And we finally found Oakdale at the foot of a big old mountain. We didn’t have many from Woodbury in the stands that night, but we had more in the stands than were there for Oakdale’s players.”
What’s some Patrick’s “biggest pleasures” as an elected official?
“Getting an elderly lady’s water problem fixed can be a very satisfying experience, especially if they’re infirmed with an illness and live alone,” Patrick noted. “Making sure we have good police and fire protection, along with medical care for our citizens is another satisfying goal for an official. …
“Helping people like (the late) Dr. Leon Reuhland save and maintain our modern (Stone’s River) hospital has been monumentally important in our community,” the mayor added. “People like Dr. Reuhland, and (the late) Dr. J.F. Adams, who walked down off Short Mountain as a barefooted boy, and later founded our original Good Samaritan Hospital, plus some business legends such as (now retired) banker Bill Smith and educators such as Miss Annie Cox. Those are the quality people who make it worthwhile to serve as an elected official.”
He described the biggest “challenge” as an elected official?
“The community got into heated debate in the early 1990s about whether to fly or not to fly over the Courthouse a new-designed county flag that contained an image of a Confederate flag,” Patrick recalled. “County commissioners of that era voted unanimously to fly the flag over the Courthouse yard. But when I checked with state officials, it was confirmed that only the county executive can decide which flags fly over the Courthouse. And I stand by my decision to not fly the Confederate flag over our beautiful historic Cannon County Courthouse.”
“We’ve always had good, solid relations among the races here, as evidenced by former Woodbury Mayor Ricky Cope, a very caring and upstanding black citizen of our community, and people like Miss Annie Cox, leading and teaching our children,” the mayor added. “In the end, it was decided the county flag could fly out at the Confederate Monument located on the western edge of Woodbury.”
SNAPSHOT OF MAYOR PATRICK'S POLITICAL CAREER
• Elected to the Cannon County Commission in 1975.
• Re-elected to the Cannon County Commission in 1978.
• Elected Cannon County Executive in 1986.
• Re-elected Cannon County Executive in 1990.
• Re-elected Cannon County Executive in 1994.
• “I resigned the office of Cannon County Executive in 1997 to accept appointment to the Clerk & Master
position by Chancellor Bob Corlew, serving in this position for 13 years, retiring in 2010,” Patrick noted.
• Elected Mayor of Woodbury in 2008.
• Re-elected Mayor of Woodbury in 2012.
• Current Mayor’s term ends in 2016.