“Soul mates are the people who bring out the best in you. They are not perfect, but are always perfect for you.” That was how it was for Nancy Patterson, 68, and her late husband James. The two were soul mates and spent their lives supporting one another. When James passed away nearly four years ago, Nancy was understandably heart broken and her despair was compounded by her inability to attend James’ memorial service due to a broken hip. Even with the support of her daughter Shelley, Nancy has been unable to overcome her grief. Nancy’s wish of a lifetime is to bring closure to her husband’s passing by holding a service in honor of James, and receiving a part of the destroyer James served on while he was in the Navy.
Both Nancy and James were dedicated to helping others. James personified this with his service on the USS Ranger from 1960 to 1963. Being in the service was an important part of James’ life and Nancy said that, “My husband was very proud to be in the service.” Nancy served others by volunteering at a local older adult facility in her birth town Perkin, IL. While volunteering at the older adult facility, Nancy helped serve lunches, cleaned up the dining hall, and helped the facility with their marketing.
Nearly 4 years after his death, Nancy still dwells on the fact that she was never able to properly say goodbye to James. With the help of Wish of a Lifetime, International Shipbreaking, the American Legion, the Jackson VFW and the Patriot Guard, Nancy was finally able to say goodbye to James. On September 26, 2015 USS Ranger Veteran, Charles Segrest, presented Nancy with a flag from the USS Ranger. The Patriot Guard Riders escorted Nancy and family from Cape Girardeau to the Brookside War Memorial in Jackson, where the ceremony in honor of James took place. During the service, Shelly, Nancy and James’ daughter said that James “was the best of the best. You couldn’t ask for a better person.” Nancy was able to receive a piece of the ship and connect with someone that served on board the USS Ranger at the same time her husband did, which finally brought Nancy the closure that she has been searching for the past few years.
Photo credit: Gene Barringer Photography