Danny Wayne “Dan” Patterson was born December 31, 1968, in Downey, California, to Dennis and Sharon Patterson. Most of his childhood was spent in Oregon, alongside his siblings, Cherie and Donny.
Early on, Dan developed a love of the outdoors. He enjoyed rafting the McKenzie River and fishing whenever possible. He’d explore the woods and creek surrounding his childhood home, building tree forts and catching crawdads. He loved to camp and ride his dirt bike.
Dan was a hard worker, saving to buy his first vehicle at 15. As a preteen, he worked for neighbors and eventually got into logging. He was hired by the USFS and fought wildland fires, including the Yellowstone fire in 1988.
His interest in career fire and EMS began as a volunteer for the Nimrod Fire Department. He enrolled in the fire science program at Chemeketa Community College in 1989. Around graduation, the qualifications for a career firefighter changed, making it necessary to be cross trained as a paramedic. By this time, Dan was married and had a daughter. Trying to support a family and go to paramedic school simultaneously proved difficult, so he set aside his goals and put his family’s needs first.
In 1997, Dan and his family moved from Oregon to Spokane, Washington. His love of fire and EMS never wavered. At the core of this love was a desire to help others and make a difference. With the encouragement of family and friends, he applied for firefighter/EMT positions around Spokane. He was hired by Spokane Valley Fire Department on April 1, 2009, and continued to work there until his death.
Dan’s death was sudden and unexpected. He left behind his wife of 32 years, Tonya; his daughter, Courtney, her husband, Tim, and their daughter, Addie; and his son, Keenan. At the time of Dan’s death, Courtney, was pregnant with his first biological grandchild. Sadly, he never got to meet Avonlea Rose, who was born 3 ½ months after his death.
Dan was so proud of his kids. Courtney shared Dan’s love of fire and EMS. She’s currently a paramedic and lead instructor for the paramedic program at Columbia Basin College. Keenan is a talented artist and musician. Dan shared a love of music with Keenan and was his biggest fan, making sure to attend his gigs to watch him play.
If there’s one thing Dan would want people to have learned from him, it’s compassion. Dan had the unique and admirable quality of looking past the exterior of a person into their heart and soul. He wanted each person to know he saw them, they mattered, and that at least one person in this world cared. This was his legacy.