ARKANSAS CITY — Bob Patterson attended nearly every important Cowley College athletic event during his 20 years as sports editor of the Arkansas City Traveler.
The hard-working newspaperman spent more than 60 years as a journalist and will be recognized for his dedication to covering Cowley College athletics by being inducted into the Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, January 26, 2019.
Patterson worked for the Ponca City News from 1989 until his retirement last year. He served as City Editor from 1996-2018.
Patterson studied journalism at Kansas State University in the mid-1950s, and his long career as sports editor in Ark City began while he was still in college.
“I saw on the bulletin board (at K-State) that there was a sports internship possibility at Arkansas City Traveler,” Patterson said. “I applied to the editor, Rex Woods, and he told me he’d give me a try.”
Woods apparently liked the fledgling journalist’s work. At the end of the summer, he offered Patterson a full-time job. Patterson accepted, quitting school at K-State and moving to Arkansas City.
Patterson met Susie Walker, his future wife, when he arrived at The Traveler, then located in the Red Cross building at Washington Avenue and A Street. She wrote short notices about locals called “Travelettes”.
Walker was a student at Arkansas City Junior College (now Cowley College).
Patterson was drafted into the service in 1959. While in the service he worked as a journalist for the Hampton Bureau of the Newport News (Virginia) Daily Press. He returned to Arkansas City as sports editor in 1961 and remained sports editor for the Traveler until 1977.
“I wanted to do the type of writing that players and coaches would appreciate,” Patterson said.
Patterson’s career at the Traveler corresponded with a “golden age” in high school football and junior college basketball competition. Basketball coach Dan Kahler led the Arkansas City Junior College (now Cowley College) Tigers to top rankings in the nation in the mid to late 1950s. And Ark City High School football coach Carl Jackson led the Bulldogs to winning records and high state rankings year after year.
“Most of the time down here I did all the coverage,” Patterson said. “I was on the bus a lot.”
Patterson covered many championship teams and individual players who won awards. One year, he recalled, three Ark City teams won state football championships — the Pups (junior high), the Bulldogs and The Tigers.
Patterson recalled other “tremendous people” in addition to Kahler, Jackson and Dean Gilstrap. Besides writing about them and their teams for The Traveler, he also became friends with them, including Tiger Athletic Hall of Famers Bunt Speer and J.C. Louderback.
He covered many good athletes in Ark City, in all sports, he said. One was Del Heidebrecht, a Tigers’ center who scored 49 points in a game against Hutchinson on Jan. 21, 1958. That remains a single-game scoring record. It was tied by Loye Sparks, who scored 49 points on Feb. 21, 1961, in a game against Pratt.
When both the high school and college teams played on Friday night, Patterson relied on others to help provide coverage. One of those was legendary Cowley College softball coach Ed Hargrove, who is also in the Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Bob was very respected county wide for the work he put in to make the Traveler sports pages the best,” Hargrove said. “Even though I helped with his overload at times, he was a one man show who covered all sports in Cowley County. If there were a Hall of Fame for small town sports writers Bob Patterson would be at the top of the list.”
In addition to Patterson’s busy schedule as sports editor, he was sports information officer for the Jayhawk Junior College Conference.
“I did football and basketball releases weekly,” Patterson said. “I sent them out to papers all over the state, providing the latest team standings, individual statistics and team statistics.”
While residing in Ark City, Patterson umpired little league baseball at the City Ball Park (now Cowley College Baseball Field).
After 20 years at the Traveler, Patterson was named sports editor of the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle. He later became managing editor of the Reflector-Chronicle and worked in Abilene for 12 years.
He was named the Kansas Wrestling Sportswriter of the Year in 1979.
He went on to join the Ponca City News in April 1989. He was named City Editor of the Ponca City News in 1996 and recently retired from the Ponca City News in April 2018, after 29 years with the paper.
(See PATTERSON, Page 7B)
Several years before he retired, he was honored for 25 years of newspaper service at the Ponca City News by the Oklahoma Press Association. He also has a plaque recognizing his efforts of covering Arkansas City High School athletics at the ACHS football stadium.
Bob and his wife, Susie, have a son, Jerry, of Rochester, NY, and a daughter, Pam, of Towanda, Kansas.
Patterson remains an avid sports fan and is honored to be going into the Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I have had an interest in watching each (Class of the Hall of Fame) after, the first group was inducted in 2000,” Patterson said. “I never once thought it would be a place for me to be recognized. I just tried to do the best job while in Arkansas City.”