Walter Patrice

Walter M. Patrice was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on October 14, 1919 to the proud parents John and Unetta Patrice. The family moved to Poughkeepsie, New York when Walter was 6 months old where he spent his formative years attending local schools.

At Poughkeepsie High School he excelled at football and baseball. He attended Johnson C. Smith College in Charlotte, North Carolina and excelled so well in football that he was inducted into their Sports Hall of Fame. He attended Howard University and was captain of the baseball team.

Heeding his country's call to duty during World War II, he enlisted into the Army as a Private in 1942. He was commissioned as an officer in 1943 and served in Europe. Although the war ended in 1945, he continued to serve in the military until he was discharged as a First Lieutenant in 1946.

Featured in Smithsonian Channel's "Breath of Freedom"

That same year he and his sweetheart Myrtle, whom he met in Louisiana. They were married in the Smith Metropolitan AME Zion Church in Poughkeepsie. At the time of her death in 2010, they had celebrated 64 years of marriage. The void in his life is filled with family, friends and community. They had adopted two children, Linda and Richard. Linda died several years ago and Richard lives in Chicago. His family includes three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

In 1952, his 33 years career began at IBM in Poughkeepsie. He was in manufacturing and was an assistant in the Equal Opportunity Department in East Fishkill. He administered the company’s Faculty Loan Program which loaned technical employees to minority colleges. He was an instructor in Management Development in his last year at Kenyon House in Poughkeepsie. Mr. Patrice retired from IBM in 1985.

As the AME church historian, Walter was the driving force behind the church receiving Federal and New York State's designation as a National Historic Site in 1992. As a concerned citizen, Walter served on the Recreation Commission in Poughkeepsie for 12 years and the Poughkeepsie Planning Board for 5 years. His ideas and expertise were instrumental in the growth and changes for the City of Poughkeepsie. Walter Patrice is the most senior Catharine Street Community Center's "kid." His tenure and time has been as both a participant and leader in the programs and activities of this organization. This includes board membership and Interim Executive Director. He continues to inspire children and the staff at the center.

Mr. Patrice was honored by Catharine Street Community Center in 1994 with the Martin Luther King Jr. award for his service to the Center and the Poughkeepsie Community. He serves on the Board of the Black History Committee. His contributions and "good works" were recognized by the Upsilon Tau Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Black History Committee. Mr. Patrice received a plaque from Poughkeepsie’s Warring Academy of Science and Technology in June 2005, for enlightening kindergarten 5th grade students about the Civil War and World War II. He was named the Assistant Principal Emeritus at the school. His knowledge and interest in World War II has also been shared with the students at Vassar College.

He was a member of the American Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Among his other honors are induction into the Dutchess County Baseball  Hall of Fame and the Dutchess County Museum Hall of  Fame. He received “The Dutchess” Award from the Dutchess County Historical Society for his livelong service in a variety of capacities to the community. He is a member of the Colored Troops Museum of Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York. Walter affectionately known as "Toot" to many friends continues to be inspiration to everyone who knows him. He continues to impart his knowledge to young and old who want to learn from one who knows history and has lived it. (Provided by Patrice family)