COLUMBIA — The line to get into the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia twisted around the parking lot Friday afternoon as mourners waited to enter the building for the funeral of county legal counsel John Patton.
Patton died Monday after sustaining injuries in a scooter accident.
The sanctuary could not hold everyone who attended the funeral, so the crowd spilled into the lobby as the service began. The Rev. William Haney and Gary Stamper, a close friend of Patton’s, delivered their introductory remarks before allowing friends, coworkers and family to share their thoughts and memories.
Almost every friend or coworker who spoke in remembrance of Patton likened him to a brother. The speeches also had a common thread in praising his passion for fatherhood.
“He was as good a guide to his kids through the woods as his clients through the law,” said Bill Rotts, a friend of Patton’s.
Patton’s three sons also spoke about their father and thanked the assembled crowd for their thoughts and prayers.
“He was a rock that would land softly, or even roughly, in the water of life and caused a ripple that touched everyone in his life,” Nick Patton said.
Patton was an organ donor and his heart, liver and kidneys have already been donated. His wish was to be cremated and have his ashes spread at certain locations. Stamper promised to take Patton’s ashes to one such place, a campsite in Canada that Patton dubbed Father’s Point.
“John often remarked that camping was where boys go to act like men and men go to act like boys,” Stamper said. “He returned there periodically to smooth out the accumulated wrinkles in his soul.”