PIKEVILLE – Born in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, the son of a teacher and school cafeteria worker, Paul Patton’s parents taught him the value of education, honest living and hard work. Throughout his life, those were the lessons that guided his path and shaped the character of a visionary and servant leader.
On Tuesday, July 26, hundreds gathered to unveil a statue in Patton’s honor, celebrating his contributions to Kentucky, to the region and the University of Pikeville. Located at the base of the university’s iconic 99 steps, a path that has served more than 13,000 alumni, his likeness will become the standard bearer for new generations of students.
“Students who embark up the “99 steps” to earn a degree at the University of Pikeville will now see the image of a man who has dedicated his life to build a better future for them,” said Congressman Hal Rogers, who spoke at the event. “Governor Patton has amassed an incredible legacy that will forever be honored across Eastern Kentucky and this entire Commonwealth, but his journey is not yet complete. There is work yet to be done and we still need him in the forefront. In Governor Patton’s long and eventful career, he made history; and now history stands in his honor.”
Business leaders, public officials and others who’d worked with Patton during his time as a coal operator, county judge-executive, as Kentucky’s 59th governor and UPIKE’s president shared stories of his many accomplishments. The statue was made possible through private donations.
Terry Dotson, chairman of UPIKE’s board of trustees, spoke of Patton’s involvement with the university for more than 40 years, including times of great challenge. “
God puts people in place to do things and to help things get better. Nothing he’s done in education, nothing he’s done in the City of Pikeville or in the region means more than what he’s done at the University of Pikeville,” said Dotson.