In Memory of




Obituary for Richard Andrew Patten

Patten, Richard Andrew May 13, 1942 - December 30, 2021 With deep sadness, the family of Richard Andrew Patten announce his death at the Ottawa General Hospital on December 30, 2021 at the age of 79, after valiantly fighting lymphoma for many years. He was one of four boys, born in Montreal to Bill Patten and Claire Morrissette, a Huguenot descendant. He is predeceased by his parents and brothers Ross of Montreal and Keith of Toronto. His brother Robert and wife Eveline live in Ottawa. He married Penny Flemming, his love, in 1966. They have two children, Timothy (Marie-Eve Larocque) and Chantelle (Johnathon Beks) and four beautiful grandchildren, Claire Rose Patten, Skyler, Sophie and Corrbin Beks, loved so much by their papa. Richard was a cousin to Dany, Gail and Judy Morrissette, an uncle to Christopher and Tyler Patten of Ottawa, David Patten of Gatineau, Shawn and Robin Patten of California and brother-in-law to John Flemming of Montreal (deceased) and Peter Flemming (Norma) of Guelph. Although Richard was born premature, weighing but three pounds, he grew to be a strong man. He was involved in many sports including as a kicker on Rosemount High’s football team. As a young person he worked in summer day camps for the Montreal YMCA and later on in different branches of the Y while attending Sir George Williams University. One summer semester, he worked with Palestinian youth in refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza, under the auspices of UNRA and the World Alliance of YMCAs. He graduated from Sir George with a Bachelor of Arts, a major in History and Philosophy of Religion and a Certificate in Applied Social Science. He became a full time YMCA Director in Montreal. In 1969 Richard accepted a 2 year posting in Georgetown, Guyana as a Trainer Consultant to the Guyanese National Council of YMCAs. His mission was to manage a process of reorienting the organization and train staff across the newly independent nation. In 1971 Richard became the Director of International Programs for the Montreal YMCA. With the expelling of Asians from Uganda, Richard negotiated an arrangement with the federal government to work with YMCAs and the voluntary sector across Canada to provide support for thousands of Ismailis in language training, culture, job readiness and provide clothing and shelter. In 1979, the family moved to Ottawa and Richard became the Director of International Programs for the Canadian National Council of YMCAs. He negotiated with CIDA and received funding to establish International Development projects throughout the world, a three way partnership between the recipient nation, supported by a branch of a Canadian YMCA and CIDA. On the home front, the family was happy to discover the Gatineau ski hills. Many winter weekends were spent at Camp Fortune and the children enjoyed learning to ski and race on the hills and Richard took lessons to become a ski instructor. During the 1980’s, he served as President of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, representing organizations engaged in international development & emergency relief. He was part of the special fact-finding mission to Sudan during the Great Sahara Drought. In 1987 Richard left the YMCA and entered politics. He became the MPP for Ottawa Centre in a Liberal government and was appointed Minister of Government Services where he oversaw the relocation of 6 ministries to Northern Ontario. In his home riding, he directly helped hundreds of constituents requiring assistance. He obtained first government funding, $2.1 million, crucial in saving the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park and he played a key role in obtaining full funding for Highway 416. He arranged for a change of ownership of the old courthouse building in Ottawa for conversion to Arts Court. As Ontario’s Minister of Correctional Services, he developed a breakthrough agreement with native communities for native-run corrections programs. In 1990 the Liberals were defeated and Richard went on to become the President of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Foundation. He increased the fund-raising substantially and the first CHEO research building was built. He set up plans for a ten million dollar Endowment Fund and developed a 6-year plan for the Foundation. In 1995, he once again became the MPP for Ottawa Centre (in opposition.) He introduced a Private Member's Bill on amendments to the new Mental Health Act, adopted by the Conservative government as “Brian’s Law” in recognition of the shooting of sportscaster Brian Smith. This law led to the establishment of early assessments of people in danger of hurting themselves or others and of community orders. It took a long time to get this Bill through the legislature. Richard was thanked by all parties. He always said he was most proud of this achievement. Richard always strove to address issues that would enhance people’s quality of life. He loved to socialize with friends and colleagues and he joined many small groups, sharing the joy of camaraderie while fleshing out solutions to important issues. He had a great sense of humour. His many talents included water colour painting – learned at the Ottawa School of Art. Many of his pictures graced the front of the family’s Christmas cards. He never forgot the Y; every summer the family would rent a cottage at YMCA Geneva Park on Lake Couchiching to meet again with old friends. He left politics in 2007. Several hundred friends from different parts of his life came together and held a tribute dinner in his honour. The outcome of the evening was the creation of the Richard Patten Aboriginal Bursary Fund at Algonquin College. Many Indigenous students have been awarded bursary money from this fund to help in their educational journey. Richard began to work in the private sector, primarily with small start-up companies. He was always available to help people in any way he could (many new Canadians). He served on many Boards: Institute for Mental Health Research, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, Tulip Festival, Shaw Centre, Lord Stanley Commemoration Group, Botanical Garden Society and many others. A memorial for Richard is being planned for the afternoon of May 13, 2022 at 1pm at the Central Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 315 McLeod Street, Ottawa. To view a livestream of the service please click here:  View Service Livestream.  A reception will follow the service.  More details will be posted on this site when they become available. Richard’s ashes will rest in MacLaren Cemetery, Wakefield, Quebec. Heartfelt thanks go out to the Ottawa General Hospital, to the many nurses and doctors who helped Richard on his long journey. They have been truly outstanding. Memorial donations to the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, 737 Parkdale Avenue, Ottawa Ontario K1Y 1J8, would be appreciated.


View a Video Tribute Celebrating the Life of Richard Patten