Long-serving former State Treasurer Grady L. Patterson Jr. was celebrated Thursday as a dedicated public servant of impeccable integrity, who for more than 35 years fiercely guarded South Carolina's financial reputation.
"He would not take home a pencil to use because it was state property," said the Rev. Agnes W. Norfleet, who eulogized Patterson at Columbia's Shandon Presbyterian Church.
Patterson also was saluted as a steadfast witness of his Christian faith, whose example guided the lives of his children, grandchildren and others.
"He was a treasure," said Norfleet. "Grady Patterson has shown how awe and humility before the Lord is our treasure."
Patterson, 85, who died Monday, was first elected state treasurer in 1966 and served under eight S.C. governors - four Democrats and four Republicans.
Three governors - Republicans James Edwards and Mark Sanford and Democrat Jim Hodges - attended Thursday's services, seated across the aisle from the family along with a string of other dignitaries, including state representatives and constitutional officers.
Edwards, who from 1975 to 1979 was the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction, said Democrat Patterson told him upon taking office, "I'm here to help you any way I can over the next four years," which he did.
As the state wrestled with budget shortfalls at that time, much as it is now, Edwards said Patterson told him the state needed a "rainy day" fund to help get through tough times, then proceeded to make it happen.
"Our AAA credit rating is testament to his conservative principles," Edwards said.
Hodges, governor from 1999 to 2003, brought a little levity to the services when he told the congregation, "Grady's being called home is proof that even God needs (good) financial advice once in a while."
Hodges applauded Patterson for his devotion to maintaining a healthy state retirement system, and his role in bringing about a $1 billion public school construction bond in 1999, the first of its kind since the 1950s.
Hodges reminded listeners of a bumper sticker Patterson used that read, "Character Counts." Hodges said discipline, elegance, integrity, vision and loyalty were among Patterson's hallmarks.
"He was with you in good times," Hodges said. "He was with you in bad times."
BURIAL WITH HONORS
Patterson's flag-draped coffin was rolled into a full sanctuary that was dressed for Advent, the Christian faith's season of holy waiting and Christmas.
Led by Marjorie, his wife of 58 years, Patterson's family marched in behind his body, some of the youngest in quieted tears.
In prayer, Norfleet asked those who mourned Patterson would be upheld by God's peace.
"Give thanks that Grady's season of declining health is over," she said, adding Patterson, a World War II fighter pilot and Air National Guard member who loved to fly, was "flying now where he knew he would be."
A banner on the church wall near a lighted Christmas tree quoted from a hymn: "For all the saints who from their labor rest, Alleluia, Alleluia."
Patterson's burial in Elmwood Cemetery was with military honors as four F-16s soared over, one breaking off in a missing-man tribute to the retired lieutenant general.