Patrick Patton, graduate of the class of 1978, always knew he wanted to do something in the science field. He just never envisioned that bringing him to a career in mortuary science.

“When I was between my sophomore and junior years at the University of Minnesota, I had to choose a major. Since it was my intention to go to medical school, I was looking for something in the science field that would have medical and practical application,” said Patton. “Organic chemistry and I didn’t get along so well, but I had found mortuary science. I very much enjoyed the counseling and sociology of death classes and figured that was the option that was going to work best for me and have been in it ever since.”

Choosing a program would turn out to be much easier. The Program of Mortuary Science at the University of Minnesota was the first program of its kind to be incorporated into a medical school, an aspect that interested Pat.

“I felt I had the best mortuary science education possible. The anatomy class was taught by one of the Medical School's professors. We actually worked on cadavers, which was quite unusual in those days outside of the University of Minnesota. I just felt like the educational opportunities I received at the University really lent itself to success in the profession.”

Since graduating, Patton has maintained close ties to his alma mater. He has been a preceptor for students’ clinical rotations, helping them gain first-hand experience at his business, Patton-Schad Funeral and Cremation Services.

“An aspect of my involvement has been as a preceptor for the mortuary science program. Years ago this was called practicum and it was an entire quarter where students were assigned to work at funeral homes to complete their education and get a practical experience while they reported to both the University as well as the Minnesota Department of Health,” he said.

Patton has also been an active member on the executive board of the National Funeral Directors Association while being active at all levels of the funeral service profession. It’s this commitment that earned him 2019 Alumnus of the Year by the Program in Mortuary Science.

“It’s a very humbling experience to be chosen as the alumnus of the year. I’m really thankful for the recognition of what I’ve done for the profession and my continued involvement with the Program of Mortuary Science.”

Earlier this year, Patton joined the board of directors of Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company in Abilene, Texas where he’s looking forward to staying involved in the profession.