As flags are flown at half staff, friends and community members mourn the loss of Sanger City Council member Robert “Rusty” Patton, who died in a Fort Worth hospital Friday night from accident-related injuries.
The accident occurred in Young County, two and a half miles east of Graham, as Patton traveled eastbound in his 2008 Chevrolet pickup on U.S. Highway 380.
“The driver [Patton] struck a 2006 Dodge pickup — also traveling eastbound — from behind as the Dodge slowed to make a left turn, said Tom Fulton, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman.
The speed limit for the road is 70 mph, said Fulton, but he was unsure of the cause or whether speed was a factor.
The accident left Patton seriously injured, and he was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. The driver of the Dodge was uninjured but a passenger in that truck was treated for injuries and released, according to DPS reports.
“The accident occurred at 1:31 p.m. and Patton died at the hospital around 7:45 p.m. Friday night,” Fulton said.
Sanger Mayor Thomas Muir requested all city flags to be flown at half staff to honor Patton, 66, who was serving his fourth term on the City Council.
“It’s just a shocker,” Muir said in a phone interview Saturday. “Any time an accident of any kind happens, it’s unexpected and puts a shock to everyone connected. He was a longtime friend and good servant to the community.”
Patton, a retired teacher and Navy veteran, served as a consultant in career and technology education. He was a 1974 graduate of what was then North Texas State University.
He was a lifelong resident of Sanger and gave back to his community in many ways. In addition to serving on the City Council, he spent several years on the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Sanger Alumni Association Board.
Friends and city officials said Patton was very active in the Lions Club and routinely volunteered to serve the community in any way he could.
“Rusty was a great person with a huge heart,” Sanger City Manager Mike Brice said. “He helped anyone who needed it and was always there with a smile and a kind word. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends in their time of grief.”
Muir said the City Council meeting will go on Monday evening as planned.
“There will be a time to pause and reflect with prayer but it will be brief, just like Rusty would have wanted it,” the mayor said. “As a good friend, I know he was all about taking care of business.”
Coker Funeral Home is handling funeral arrangements, and messages for the family may be left at www.cokerfuneralhome.com.
“Sanger has lost one of its greatest supporters and promoters and individually we have all lost a good friend,” Brice noted in an e-mail statement.
“Rusty will be sorely missed,” Muir said.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.