Philip H. “Phil” Patterson
Feb 16, 1935 – Dec 15, 2017
Philip H. Patterson passed away surrounded by family at The Rose Blumkin Home on December 15, 2017 after a long, brave battle with cancer. Born and raised in Omaha, Phil was the only son to parents Howard L. and Allie Mae Patterson. He had one sister, Mary Dee Hillegass, who preceded him in death. Phil attended Benson High School and the University of Nebraska, graduating with a degree in business in 1956. After graduation, Phil joined his father’s insurance company, H.L. Patterson Co., eventually becoming President. During his 13-year tenure there, Phil was President of the Nebraska Association of Mutual Insurance Agents and Vice President of the National Association. But in 1970, the insurance business “just wasn’t any fun anymore” and “getting to be a grind.” During lunch with a client one of those days, Phil learned about the struggle his client had importing some raw materials and the total absence of any customs brokers in not just Omaha, but anywhere in Nebraska and Iowa. That conversation led to one of Phil’s best adventures, leaving the insurance business and starting Phil Patterson, Inc.—Nebraska’s and Iowa’s first and only import and export customs office. He loved going to the office every day, the fun challenges he faced day in and out and continuing right up through just a couple of months ago.
Before he launched his import/export business, his heart led him to a more personal adventure, one with life-long consequences and a deeply personal passion. Phil, along with friends, Jim Rosenquist, Bob Hasebroock and L.A. Bukacek, founded Big Brothers-Big Sisters of the Midlands, starting with just $1,000 in seed money, and much time spent recruiting volunteers. Phil started his own Big Brother relationship, mentoring a troubled young man for many years. Just two years ago his “little brother” contacted Phil after more than 50 years to share how much that relationship helped him over the years. It was also during this time that Phil served two terms as President of the Downtown YMCA.
Phil married Helga Lincoln in 1978, combining his daughter and two sons with Helga’s daughter and two sons, in what would become a source of joy for both Phil and Helga, as all six children loved being together. When Phil and Helga moved to Sanibel, Florida and built a home there in the 1980s, their children loved meeting there for vacations. Although spread through the country now as adults, everyone looked forward to Thanksgiving in Sanibel and Omaha every other year when Phil and Helga returned permanently to Omaha.
Phil was preceded in death by his parents, Howard and Allie Mae Patterson; stepmother, Myra Patterson; sister, May Hillegass. Phil is survived by his wife, Helga; son, Clay Patterson of Omaha; son, Craig Patterson (Kristi) of Minneapolis, MN; daughter, Camille Cadman (Matt) of Seattle, WA; stepsons, Doug Lincoln of San Diego and Craig Lincoln (Chris) of Huntsville, AL; stepdaughter, Stephanie Lincoln of San Francisco; four grandchildren: Nick, Samantha, and Jack Patterson of Minneapolis, and Colby Cadman of Seattle.
SERVICES Friday, January 12, 2018 at 11am at the West Center Chapel, 7805 W. Center Road. Memorials to Big Brothers/Big Sisters or Rose Blumkin Jewish Home.