“Saint” Samuel Patterson: 1920-2004

Samuel Patterson, known as “Saint” Samuel Patterson, left this world for his eternal reward on Thursday evening, September 16, 2004.

According to information generously supplied to me by Chicago COGIC and gospel music historian Mack Mason, Patterson was memorialized at the church he founded, St. Samuel Temple COGIC, 8749 South State Street, Chicago on September 24. The wake and service took place on the 25th at the Life Center COGIC, 5500 South Indiana, with Bishop Robert R. Sanders of the Third Jurisdiction officiating.

Patterson was born August 31, 1920 in Morgan City, Mississippi as one of 14 children of John and Clarissa Patterson. He learned to play the piano and guitar after the family moved to Memphis in 1934. As a youngster in Memphis, Patterson accompanied such gospel pioneers as Elder Utah Smith and Mother Fannie Page during services.

He moved to Chicago in 1940 and lent his musical abilities to the St. Paul COGIC, a church planted by Bishop L.H. Ford. The list of gospel artists with whom Patterson worked and appeared on programs reads like an all-star roster: Bishop F.D. and Madame Ernestine Washington, Rev. Milton Brunson, Rev. Clay Evans, Rev. Maceo Woods, Rev. James Cleveland, the incomparable Lux Singers, the Gay Sisters, and many more. He accompanied Mahalia Jackson on guitar on four sides recorded during a December 1947 session. The sides were released on Bess Berman’s Apollo label. He also cut two sides of his own for Apollo in August 1949.

But music was not the only calling for Patterson. He was ordained in the Church of God in Christ in 1949 by Bishop W.M. Roberts and ministered to several churches, including the St. Samuel Temple COGIC at 5539 South State Street, which he founded with five members in November of 1957 (the church is now located at 87th and State Streets).

Patterson hosted a gospel music television program, “Gospel Train,” on Chicago’s Channel 26. He also recorded in the early 1960s for the Miss and Jerico Road labels, and was featured on gospel historian Anthony Heilbut’s 1993 “The Soul of Chicago” CD (Shanachie 6008). Heilbut commented in the liner notes that Patterson’s “down-home guitar tyle and remarkable voice — he’s a ringer for B.B. King — have fascinated blues lovers.”

In addition to his ministry in the COGIC, Patterson worked for the Chicago Housing Authority, retiring in August 1982.

On December 9, 2003, Patterson received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Dr. Cornelius English, president of the Calvary School of Ministry of Grace Theological Seminary, “for his labor, significant achievements, and excellence in ministry.”

Samuel Patterson is survived by his wife of nearly 57 years, Mother Bennie C. Patterson, and six children: Val-Rie Jean, Samuel Marvin, Sondra Marie, Carlos Romel, Lori Clarice, and Richard Emory.

(Special thanks to Mack Mason and Anthony Heilbut for their help with this piece)

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.