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Pebley Center Collections - Fred Patton: J. Fred Patton

Pebley Center Collections

The J. Fred Patton Collection is one of many collections in the Pebley Center at Boreham Library.   Please explore the website for the Pebley Center for more information.  


About James Fred Patton

A native of Dyer, Arkansas,  James Fred Patton was an educator, historian, successful businessman, and community activist.  He was a graduate of the University of Arkansas - Fayetteville with a B.A. and M.A. in history and political science.  He did graduate work at Harvard and at George Peabody College.  In his career as an educator, he was a teacher, administrator, and school board member in the Fort Smith Public Schools and at Fort Smith Junior College (now University of Arkansas – Fort Smith). 

Mr. Patton’s long career included service on many boards and committees associated with projects that benefited the citizens of Fort Smith and of Arkansas.   A historian, Mr. Patton was the author of History of Fort Smith, 1817-2000.    He was chosen as one of the most influential persons of the decade by the Southwest Times Record and was highly regarded locally for his vision and civic involvement. 

Career Highlights

Achievements and Contributions of Mr. J. Fred Patton 

  • Key player in projects such as the Marshals' Tombstone Project for Oak Cemetery
  • Instrumental in the project for renaming of the federal building as the Judge Isaac C. Parker Federal Building
  • Founder of the "Golden Deeds Award"
  • Influential in bringing about construction of the Garrison Avenue Bridge (later renamed the J. Fred Patton Garrison Avenue Bridge)
  • Key player in efforts fpr Civic Center expansion
  • Helped organize the "Tales of the Crypt" project at Oak Cemetery
  • Co-Founder of Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in 1971 
  • Author – History of Fort Smith, 1817 - 2000
  • Chairman of Fort Smith Sesquicentennial Celebration
  • Teacher – Sunday School Class at the United Methodist Church
  • President of the Alumni Association at the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville
  • Permanent Class Organizer for the Class of 1929 Reunions
  • Kiwanis Club President and District Lieutenant Governor
  • Western Arkansas Economic Development  (10 years)
  • Chamber of Commerce Director (3 times over 20 years)
  • Fort Smith School Board - member and president
  • Fort Smith Planning Commission Member
  • Sebastian County Quorum Court Member (10 years)
  • Black Community Development Board, 1989-1994
  • Multiethnic Committee founder and member
  • Teacher – Sunday School Class at the United Methodist Church for 63 years
  • Division Manager at Gordon Transport
  • Enthusiastic supporter of Fort Smith Junior College (later Westark College and UAFS) 


J. Fred Patton