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Hospitality leader Earl Patton killed in Wednesday night’s storms

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta business and civic leader Earl Patton passed away in Wednesday night’s storm.

The sad news was distributed by the Rotary Club of Atlanta’s Linda Thomason Glass who sent the following email on Thursday:


“Earl was at his Lake house last night when the tornado came through, demolished his house, and took his life.”

Patton, a developer of Marriott Hotels in both Georgia and Florida, had been an active player in both Cobb County and in the Atlanta hospitality community.

He served as chairman of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. Patton also served as a board member and chairman of the hospitality committee for Super Bowl XXVIII.

Patton also was an Atlanta native and a proud Georgia Tech graduate.

Details about what happened have been hard to come by. Hopefully, I will be able to update this post as more information becomes available.

Meanwhile, I found a video of a December, 2008 interview with Patton as part of a Patton family legacy project.

The video says he was born on June 27, 1927, which meant he was 83 years old when he passed away. In the interview, Patton also speaks lovingly of his wife, Mary. The two were married in March, 1949, which means that they celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary last month.


Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Bill Todd April 28, 2011 7:25 pm

    Earl Patton was a great citizen of Atlanta, a devoted Georgia Tech man, and big and gregarious personality that made everyone around him feel better.Report

  2. James Shepherd April 28, 2011 8:33 pm

    Earl will be sorely missed by all of us who were lucky enough to enjoy his friendship, kindness and advice. My sincere condolences to you Mary and the rest of the family.Report

  3. Patrick Hill April 28, 2011 8:40 pm

    Earl Patton was a legendary Atlantan, and a great leader for our region. Thank you, Maria, for passing this along.Report

  4. John K. Smith April 28, 2011 9:11 pm

    Earl Patton was a true southern gentlemen and tireless advocate for Atlanta’s Hospitality Community… a mentor to many of us who admired his congeniality, integrity, humor and sense of purpose. We will miss him greatly.Report

  5. Donita Welsch Newton April 28, 2011 9:57 pm

    Earl Patton was a model citizen with a great sense of community and service. His kind, cheerful disposition was contagious and those of us who knew him were the better for it. I grew up across the street from the Pattons, as a close friend of his daughter, and was blessed by his example in so many ways. Many thanks go to him for the steady example of how to live a good life.Report

  6. Daryl Toor April 28, 2011 10:53 pm

    Earl was a man like no other. In the politicized world that was the ACVB, Earl treated everyone with respect and always was appreciative of my efforts to be the first person to publicize Atlanta to the world prior to the Olympics.

    He was Mr. Atlanta and the granfdfather everyone wishes they had. Rest in peace Earl. You are gone too soon.Report

  7. Barney Walsh April 29, 2011 11:50 am

    My sympathies to Rick Patton and his entire family. Rick your Dad was a lovely man and so proud of you. your family, the City of Atlanta and all those he came to know. I was the beneficiary of his kindness throughout my years living in Atlanta. He always greeted me with such kindness and genuine interest. I cannot tell you how sorry I am for your loss. Having just lost my father recently I simply share your burden. They were wonderful examples of our “greatest generation” With love and affection –

    Amy Clifton & Barney Walsh
    71 Middlesex Road
    Buffalo, NY 14216Report

  8. David E. Jones April 29, 2011 12:43 pm

    Earl was a true, southern gentleman with grace, class, and respect for others. He will be missed by so many people whose lives he touched.Report

  9. Jim Gillespie April 29, 2011 1:55 pm

    Earl Patton was a special friend. When you were with Earl you always felt you were with someone very special. His focus was always on you rather than himself. He will be missed greatly in Atlanta.His contribution to the hotel market was significant. We all will miss his contributions and his friendship.Report

  10. David Miranda April 29, 2011 2:21 pm

    Earl Patton was a treasure – a man who lived life to the fullest with infectious enthusiasm and selfless generosity. He will be greatly missed. St. Peter has his hands full.Report

  11. Spencer Brewer April 29, 2011 3:11 pm

    Earl and I were friends since our days at North Fulton High School. Later, Earl joined the Sigma Chi fraternity at Georgia Tech and we became brothers. Through the intervening 65 years, I was always greeted with a broad smile and a firm, warm handshake. Earl was a very capable fellow and full of action. One couldn’t have imagined the mode of his departure from us. Bless you, Mary. Spencer BrewerReport

  12. Dave Kaplan April 29, 2011 4:36 pm

    What a wonderful man! Saw him at church Easter Sunday. Knew him for more than 30-years. A great loss to many throughout Atlanta, Georgia and the country.

    Bless you Mary and Rick.Report

  13. Gay Watson April 29, 2011 4:38 pm

    Earl played an important role in Cobb County as well as the City of Atlanta. He was chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and founded its International Center in the early 1980s. He was instrumental in bringing Enplas USA to open its US HQ in Marietta and remained a good friend to that company — his portrait was displayed in the Enplas USA boardroom in Marietta. It was a true pleasure to work with such a fine gentleman.Report

  14. shirley April 29, 2011 9:26 pm

    There is no doubt Earl’s contributions to Atlanta and Georgia will continue to enrich our city and state. He never missed an opportunity to partner with city officials and to join in promoting Atlanta. He will be missed.Report

  15. Heather Weaver April 30, 2011 1:19 am

    I myself met Earl and Mary years ago at their lake house on lake burton. Years went on and my husband and I was looking for work over on the lakes when I stoped in to the Pattons, Rick was there working outside, I ask him if he had anything we could do and he told me yes so we started doing little odd jobs at the lake house. Then about 2 yrs ago we became caretakers of the Pattons house, we grew close to Earl and Mary and had gone to the lake many times just to visit with Earl (he loved the lake) we talked for hours from giving advice to how much he loved his family. Earl never had met my dad but my dad had got sick and Earl never failed to ask about him everytime we spoke or my 5 year old son Trent who has low/high blood sugar when he went with us he and Earl fished together. If you knew Earl Patton you loved him as well. He will be truly missed. Our prayers go out to Mary and the family.Report

  16. Pete Wood April 30, 2011 4:52 pm

    Earl Patton was a dedicated community leader, his death is a big loss to the communities he was associated with.

    Pete Wood
    Smyrna City CouncilmanReport

  17. Thomas Robley Burnett April 30, 2011 9:39 pm


    I’m sorry for your loss!

    Tom Burnett
    former asst. scoutmaster, troop 34, P’tree Pres. Church
    now, Live Oak, FloridaReport

  18. Leslie Hughes May 1, 2011 1:00 pm

    Dear Louise and entire Patton family,

    I heard of your loss from my father last night.
    I have so many childhood memories of him,having played
    so often as a child at your home on Starlight

    We shared McClatchey, Peachtree Prebyterian Church
    and summers swimming at Cherokee. Our parents have been
    friends for decades.
    My thoughts and sympathy are with you for this great

    With love
    Leslie Hughes
    Vienna, AustriaReport

  19. Big Bob Watt May 2, 2011 12:53 pm

    Rick. I met you and your dad when Munford said lets drive around the lake and find the Patton’s Cabin.. It did not take long as so many people knew ya’ll. In the late 60’s the lake seemed smaller and more intimate. I kept seeing your dad at different times at gas docks and Anchorage, and i learned it was smart to listen to him. He was kind and full of wisdom. It was a blessing to run into him and listen to the pearls he passed on. My prayer go up for you and your family.
    Bob Watt Jr. Wildcat Cove, L. Burton

    PS: We lost trees, but the structures were spared.Report

  20. Jeff Powell May 2, 2011 1:43 pm

    I grew up across the street from the Patton’s and have fond memories of pushing my bike up their driveway to the trail behind their house that took me to McClatchey Elementry. Earl was always such a kind and cheerful man. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Patton family.Report

  21. Sigma Chi Fraternity May 10, 2011 11:44 pm

    All honor to his name.Report


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