NCCU dean, English professor dies

Jul. 05, 2013 @ 09:19 PM

The N.C. Central University community is mourning the death of retired dean and English professor Cecil L. Patterson, who died Tuesday at age 96.

The university sent an announcement to the campus expressing sadness about the passing of Patterson. He joined the NCCU faculty in 1950 as an assistant professor in the Department of English, later becoming an associate professor and full professor. He also served as director of the honors program, dean of the Undergraduate School from 1968 to 1978 and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs from 1978 to 1986. Patterson retired in 1986 and was named professor emeritus. He was the recipient of an honorary doctor of humanities degree from NCCU in 1988. Patterson earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

He was also an Army veteran, serving in the Corps of Engineers during World War II in the South Pacific. After the war, he served in the U.S. Army Reserves until retiring as a colonel in 1973. He was the first African-American officer to be assigned to commandant of a U.S. Army Reserve School, commanding the 3286 USAR in Raleigh.

Patterson lived in the neighborhood surrounding NCCU and was frequently seen on walks. He was active in his church, St. Titus’ Episcopal Church, along with his wife, Vivian Patterson, who retired as vice president and trust officer at Mechanics and Farmers Bank. She participated in St. Titus’ service honoring Pauli Murray on Monday. Cecil Patterson had served as warden, treasurer and in the vestry.

His family will receive friends from 6 to 9 p.m. July 14 at St. Titus’ Episcopal Church, 400 Moline St. in Durham. The memorial service will be held July 15, location to be determined.