Oil patch memories: At Alzheimer’s Gala, son honors a father lost to dementia

Glenn Patterson

Alzheimer’s Association 16th annual Memory Gala

April 7, 6:30 p.m.

Hurst Conference Center

1601 Campus Drive, Hurst

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For more information:

Lyn Downing at 817-336-4949

or visit FWMemorygala.org.

The Alzheimer’s Association-North Central Texas Chapter is one of 81 local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association, which has its national headquarters in Chicago. The local chapter, headquartered in Fort Worth, covers 40 counties and has regional offices in Abilene, Waco and Wichita Falls. It is a nonprofit, donor-supported organization.

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Glenn Patterson co-founded Patterson Drilling Co. in 1978 in Snyder and grew it from one rig to one of the largest land-drilling companies in the world. Patterson Drilling had more than 300 drilling rigs all over the United States and Canada by the time he retired in 2006.

By 2014, the year before Glenn Patterson died of Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia, the second most common form of progressive dementia, Patterson Drilling Co.-UTI reported revenue of $3.18 billion.

“His was the classic all-American success story of going from rags to riches with hard work and determination,” said his son, Roe Patterson, who is serving as honorary chairman of the Alzheimer’s Association 2017 Memory Gala in honor of his father.

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“I got my strength from my dad and uncle [Cloyce Talbott, co-founder of Patterson Drilling]. They are the men I admire most. I always admired the loyalty of their workers and their selflessness. I try to live by that example every day,” said Patterson, 42.

Now president and CEO of Basic Energy Services, headquartered in Fort Worth, Roe Patterson says he didn’t know much about dementia when his father was diagnosed, first with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at age 60, then several years later with Lewy body dementia (LBD), caused by protein deposits in the brain.

LBD causes mobility issues and balance problems and often hallucinations and panic attacks as well as classic Alzheimer’s symptoms, including a decline in thinking, reasoning and memory.

In 2006, after 30 years of working in the business, Glenn Patterson had retired and was almost simultaneously diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Roe Patterson recalls that he and his dad were playing golf on a beautiful Saturday afternoon about 10 years ago when he first noticed his dad was having trouble with little things.

“When it was his turn to hit, he would act a little confused about what he was supposed to do, and we would always bet with each other on our golf games, but that day a couple of times he forgot what the bet was. That was not like him, at all.

“I remember how much fun we were having that day, but in the back of my mind, I knew something wasn’t right,” Patterson said. “I just had this feeling we weren’t going to have many more days like this, and I felt sad, but happy at the same time that I was there with him enjoying that moment.”

As his father’s symptoms got worse, Roe Patterson said, he made it a point to go to the Alzheimer’s Association website and learn all he could about the disease. He urged his mother to do the same.

“There was some harsh reality in what we found on the association’s website, but there’s also a lot of great advice that helped my mother,” who for years cared for his dad in their home, Patterson said. “If they hadn’t been there for us, we wouldn’t have known what we were up against. Caregivers need to get help for themselves and their loved one and get it early.”

There is still no prevention and no cure for Alzheimer’s, and it is progressive, Patterson pointed out.

“Treatments, at best, are Band-Aids that extend life a little. Available drugs are not strong enough to make the disease manageable for very long. There’s just a lot more work to do. But research right now is very promising,” he said.

“Researchers are learning a lot about the re-growth of brain cells, and new pathways and how to slow the protein growth that is so devastating. I think there are some real breakthroughs just around the corner,” he said.

Glenn Patterson “was always a very private guy and never liked to be the center of attention.” In some ways he would probably not want to be memorialized at a big event such as the Memory Gala, his son acknowledged.

But he was “face-to-face” with Alzheimer’s while it slowly robbed him of hours and days and whole years of life and relationships, Patterson said.

“Alzheimer’s is a death sentence right now and it shouldn’t be,” Patterson said. “It should be a treatable and one day curable disease.

“It was sad. … He was sad. I think if we can use his experience to help even just one other person, he would want us to do it. If his experience could help someone someday, it would somehow make his experience more worthwhile … and if his brain can help research, he would say, ‘Do it. Do everything you can to help,’” said Patterson, who made the difficult decision to donate his father’s brain to help researchers advance their understanding of Alzheimer’s disease.

Patterson and his wife, Tonya, are honorary chairmen, and former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett and his wife, Janet, are celebrity chairmen s for the 2017 Memory Gala, “A Key to a Cure.”

Sponsors of the event include BNSF Foundation, Rosalyn G. Rosenthal, the family of Graham Holloway and Hillwood, A Perot Company.


Back to Basic

On Oct. 25, 2016 – the day Roe Patterson filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings – he predicted that his company, Basic Energy Services, would emerge from the proceedings before the end of the year.

Two months later, on Dec. 23, the company completed its pre-packaged restructuring and recapitalization plan and emerged from Chapter 11 protection with $125 million in new capital and a debt level reduced by $775 million.

“We had a quick turnaround because we secured support ahead of filing,” Patterson said. “We had already come to a lot of agreements we needed with our debt holders and were well on the way to making it as clean a process as possible before we filed.”

The bankruptcy judge agreed to fast-track Basic Energy’s restructuring because Basic had already reached a deal with creditors to reduce its debt load, he explained.

Basic Energy immediately filed a series of additional motions with the bankruptcy court requesting authority to continue normal operations and maintain normal staff and equipment and continue paying employee wages and salaries and providing employee benefits without interruption during the restructuring, Patterson said.

The company began soliciting votes on the pre-packaged plan prior to filing its petition and continued to work closely with its suppliers and partners to ensure that it was meeting obligations and that business continued uninterrupted, Patterson said.

“And there was no employee turnover due to the process itself,” he said. “We had the same teams going into [Chapter 11] as we had coming out.”

“We now have the financial flexibility to continue to provide our customers with industry-leading expertise and safe, efficient services,” he added.

“My dad taught me that honesty and integrity is everything in business and in life,” said Patterson, who is chairing this year’s Memory Gala for the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of his father, Glenn Patterson.

“He always said the decisions you make are only as good for you as they are for everyone you work with. … If something is bad, it is bad for everyone. If something is good for you, it has to be good for everyone who works with you and for you – employees and customers and vendors. We all share in the good and the bad and if we do that, business is easy.”

Basic Energy, headquartered in Fort Worth, has about 3,900 employees in 17 states. “And we are back in a growth mode,” Patterson said.