John M. Patterson has a, to put it mildly, a complicated legacy. He was, at one point, the governor of Alabama. On one side, he took on organized crime, facing it after it caused him a deep personal loss. But on the flip side, he was a staunch segregationist during his tenure as a top politician in Alabama.

Years later, he did publicly state his regret for promoting segregation. But the lasting impact of his actions, or sometimes lack thereof, in-office remain. Unfortunately, as reported by Stitcher, Patterson has passed away.

He was apparently at his home

John M. Patterson died on the fourth. He was reportedly at his home in his native Goldville in central Alabama at the time.

Patterson was elected governor of Alabama in 1958 as a Democrat by an enormous margin. He campaigned heavily on his law enforcement background. And he also openly embraced the policy of segregation. His education platform included saying that a school would be shut down before it would be integrated. Patterson's other policy stances include supporting voter suppression tactics.

At the time, governors of Alabama were not allowed to serve consecutive terms by law. As such, Patterson was ineligible to run right away for another gubernatorial term.

But he has largely been considered as having paved the way, so to speak, for his successor. That being the infamous George Wallace, also a Democrat.

In 1966, John M. Patterson did make another run in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. However, he finished in a distant sixth place. The nomination went to George Wallace's wife, Lurleen.

Lurleen Wallace would go on to win the general election.

Four years later, Patterson also ran in the Democratic primary for Alabama Supreme Court chief justice. He lost the nomination to Howell Heflin. Heflin was a member of a high-profile political family. He would win the office that year and later become a longtime and prominent member of the U.S.


Afterward, Patterson joined the faculty of what was then Troy State University. Eventually, he was appointed as a judge of the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. He retired from the court in 1997.

Had been attorney general of Alabama

John M. Patterson had served in the United States Army during World War II and the Korean War. He reached the rank of major. Along the way, he also graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law. After leaving the military, Patterson joined his father's law firm.

Albert Patterson, John's father, was a highly-decorated World War I veteran. He became involved in local politics and was eventually elected to the Alabama Senate. Albert became well-known for combatting organized crime.

In 1954, he became the Democratic nominee to be the state's attorney general. Albert was later openly aware that his life was very much in danger.

The threat that Albert was concerned about was apparently well-founded. After his assassination, John was given the Democratic nomination, and he won the general election.

The Patterson family story was the basis for a movie that was released in 1955. Richard Kiley played John, and John McIntire portrayed his father.

According to WRBL, John M. Patterson was the last surviving major figure of that particular fight against organized crime.