Robert Porter Patterson's 100th anniversary of graduation from Union honored

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Robert Porter Patterson's 100th anniversary of graduation from Union honored

A group of distinguished alumni joined President Stephen C. Ainlay in New York City Monday night to recognize the 100th anniversary of the graduation of Robert Porter Patterson from the College.


President Ainlay served as master of ceremonies for the evening, which brought together alumni in the legal field. Remarks were given by Robert Morris Morgenthau, who served for 35 years as the district attorney for New York County, and prosecuted many high-profile cases. He previously was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to U.S. Attorney for New York's Southern District. Morgenthau had several notable assistant district attorneys work with him, including Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, Governor Andrew Cuomo and John F. Kennedy, Jr.

"It is an evening of remembrance and celebration of a life that was clearly well lived," Ainlay said. The president later awarded Patterson with the John Bigelow Medal, an award established by Ainlay to recognize friends of the College who have contributed to the advancement of humanity.

Other notable speakers were Clifford Brown, the Robert Porter Patterson Professor of Government, and Lawrence B. Pedowirz '69, a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz.

Patterson played a critical role in helping to shape the allied victory in World War II. Under Secretary of War from 1940 to 1945, he was the person most responsible for mobilizing America's industrial resources to produce the weapons and equipment needed. When he returned to civilian life, he worked for a decade as a Manhattan attorney until be appointed judge of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan by President Herbert Hoover in 1930. In 1939, he was appointed to the Federal Court of Appeals in New York by Franklin Roosevelt. He was also one of the principal architects of the new Department of Defense. He died in a tragic plan crash in New Jersey in 1952.

To watch a highlight video of the event, click here.