Jim Patton

Jim Patton

Jim Patton (1953-2012).

Jim Patton was a man of many interests and accomplishments. His children, Kathryn Braidwood Patton and William Anselm Patton were his greatest joy. He met his wife, Kathleen (“Catch”) Patton, during the first week of studies at Carleton College in 1970, and they loved each other for 42 years.

Jim was an extremely kind man, encouraging the best in everyone. A brilliant scholar, innovator, and entrepreneur, he shared his knowledge and experience freely. He dedicated many years to the movement for peace with justice, and he championed cultural diversity as a citizen, professor of anthropology, and successful business leader. As a teenager Jim explored the mountains of the West Coast on foot, bike, and cross-country skis. In his twenties he hiked the Inca Trail, explored Patagonia, and journeyed into the caves of the Maya Mountains. Later he sailed the waters of the Florida Keys, but his favorite place to embrace nature was on Lopez Island, where he and his family bought a home twelve years ago. Jim was a passionate defender of wild places and sustainability throughout his entire life. While on Lopez he served as a Beach Watcher and volunteer at Locavore events.

Jim was a first-rate scholar and businessman. He earned his doctorate in cultural anthropology as a Dougherty Fellow at Washington University, specializing in Andean agricultural economics. He taught cultural anthropology at several universities before embarking on a new career in the piney woods just north of New Orleans.

To the general public, Jim is best known as a pivotal pioneer in the American craft brewing movement. He founded the Abita Brewing Company in 1984. It was the 13th craft brewery in the U.S. and the first in the south.

Jim brought Turbodog, Purple Haze, Abita Rootbeer, and hundreds of other iconic brews from concept to marketplace. After Abita, he served as brewmaster at Key West Brewery and co-founder/brewmaster at Zea Rotisserie and Brewery in New Orleans. At the time of his death he was brewmaster at Wynnwood Brewing Company, Miami’s first craft brewery. Jim mentored many brewers and always took great interest in the craft and its practitioners.

Jim’s interest in the natural world led him to seasonal employment with the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Each summer for three years he protected the forest canopy of the San Juan Islands by surveying for gypsy moths.

He enjoyed this stewardship and the many friendships he forged while working on the islands.

Jim became an avid winemaker in recent years, fermenting his own wines on Lopez Island and working at several wineries in Oregon and California.

He died unexpectedly in Miami on Oct. 23, 2012.

Jim is survived by his mother Peggy; wife, Catch; daughter Kathryn; son Will; sister Amy; and sister Betty.

A private memorial is being held this week. A public celebration of his life will be held when the time is right.