Leroy Patterson: One of Bangor’s finest and most humble athletes ever

Leroy Patterson was the most humble athlete I have ever known. His humility was the same regardless of whether it concerned his abilities or his children’s abilities as they all were very gifted athletes.
The first time I saw Leroy Patterson playing a sport was at the Bangor YMCA where he was playing basketball in one of the youth leagues. There was something very special about him then. He was the best athlete or player on his team or in the league for that matter. He  really cared about his teammates at a young age. He  was unselfish to a fault and encouraged and appreciated his teammates — something he always did in his athletic career.
He was one of Bangor High’s best all-around athletes in the school’s history. He was an outstanding halfback in football, a graceful basketball player and a fleet-footed outfielder in baseball, who could hit with power. Leroy graduated from Bangor High school in 1962.
But. as great an athlete as he was, he was an even greater human being. He always had a big smile when he greeted you and was a great role model for the youth of Bangor in the early 1960s.
Leroy, who went on to have a 33-year career with the University of Maine police department, died Wednesday morning of cancer at his home in Winterport. He was 67.
Leroy was extremely humble about his athletic ability.
In March of 1962 after he led the Rams to the Eastern Maine championship in basketball, we asked him to join our semi-pro team and play in several area tournaments and he said that he didn’t think he was good enough to play with us. That is how humble he was.
Although Leroy was seven years younger than I, I always made it a point to see him in action in all three sports whenever possible. I remember his running ability in football, his ability to dodge defenders and his soft hands in receiving passes.
In basketball he could score, but he was the ultimate team player who made his teammates better and was a great floor leader even though he played center on that 1962 title team. Leroy was only 6-foot-2 and had to go up against bigger centers, but his competitiveness and mental toughness always made him successful in the paint.
I was coaching at Fort Fairfield that year and we played Bangor twice and I remember we couldn’t stop Leroy because if we guarded him one-on-one, he scored and if we double-teamed him, he would easily find the open man.
In baseball he could run down fly balls from his center field position and my could he fly on the bases, when he stretched a into a double. When he was on first base, it was a sure thing he would be on second on the next pitch.
In all the times that I saw Leroy play sports, played  with him, officiated  his games, and officiated with him,  I never saw him loose his composure, argue with an official or ever set a bad example. He was a role model at all stages of his life. It was important to Leroy to be a positive role model for the youngsters in Bangor.
When I was coaching John Bapst baseball in the 1980s, I would always call Leroy first to umpire my games behind the plate. He was an excellent baseball umpire and also handled Bapst football games. He was an ideal official from a coach’s perspective. He knew the game was for the kids and that he was there to make sure that they knew that. He was polite to the players and you could always ask Leroy a question about a decision so long as it wasn’t balls or strikes. Our players always had a smile on their faces when they saw Leroy coming down to the field at Husson College with his umpire’s gear on. You would hear them say “all right,” especially the pitchers and catchers as he was an outstanding ball-and-strike umpire.
I never heard Leroy Patterson ever say a negative word about anybody at anytime over the years, and I never heard any person ever say a bad word about him.
Leroy,  after his graduation, was a great supporter of Bangor athletics and he  gave back to the Bangor athletic community in many ways.
Leroy was one of the greatest athletes in Bangor High history, but I believe he was Bangor High’s most favorite athletic son of all time and I know he was Bangor’s most humble athlete.
We are all better off for having Leroy in our lives.
Rest in peace Leroy. You will really be missed by the Bangor athletic community. I can see you with that great infectious smile as you enter the pearly gates.
.If you would like to suggest a subject for the column. please e-mail me at mrp17@roadrunner.com. Also,please  check out other basketball topics on my blog.