William David Pattison II
was born 21 May 1921 in Chicago, the third of four children of William David Pattison, Sr. and his wife, Jessie Heise. William,
or Bill, as he was called, grew up in Winamac, Pulaski County, Indiana, in a
well-to-do household as the son of a drugstore owner. Bill's childhood was
shadowed by his mother's leaving his father and him in the 1930's, taking the
youngest daughter, Virginia, with her.
Bill attended the Junior and Senior years at Lake Forest High School in Lake Forest, Illinois, graduating in 1939. He apprenticed at a local Winamac newspaper before entering the army and being sent to Europe during WWII.
After the War ended, Bill attended the University of Chicago, earning a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree. After studying for a couple of years at University College in London, he returned to the University of Chicago to receive his Doctorate in Geography. His doctoral dissertation was also his most famous publication, which still appears in geography texts today: The Beginnings of the American Rectangular Land Survey System, 1784-1800, University of Chicago, Department of Geography Research Paper 50 (Chicago, 1957).
His first teaching position was at UCLA as an Assistant Professor. He soon returned to the University of Chicago as an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, which he also chaired. He eventually moved over to the U. of C.'s School of Education, from which he retired in 1991. Even after his retirement and move to Valparaiso, Indiana, he continued an association with the U. of C., maintaining an office there and collaborating on a project to develop teaching materials for grade schools.
Bill most wanted to be an educated and an educating man. In his retirement, he set about learning Latin. He also made a personal project of gathering information on the Kankakee Marsh, a local wetlands, to create an archive for its study at Valparaiso University in Indiana.
Despite his achievements in academia, Bill's greatest source of pride was certainly his two children, Margaret Constance and William David III, born to his union with Rhoda L. Heinecke. They had been married in 1961 in California.
Bill was very health-conscious, perhaps because of a family history of cancer, which had claimed his father, brother, and both sisters. He quit smoking in the 1960's, practiced yoga daily, drank in moderation, walked whenever he could, and rarely touched sweets. It is likely due to such practices that he was able to avoid the disease as long as he did, but it eventually claimed him as well. He died 16 Dec 1997 of kidney cancer, at the age of 76. His ashes are buried with his wife's in the Memorial Garden of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Valparaiso, Indiana.
William D. Pattison II's obituary, which he wrote himself shortly before his death, appeared in The Times (Valparaiso, IN) on 18 Dec 1997:
William David Pattison
"Prof. William David Pattison, of Valparaiso, died December 16, 1997,
after an illness of several weeks. A resident of Valparaiso since 1994, he
formerly lived in Chicago. Born May 18, 1921 in Chicago, he grew up in Winamac,
Indiana, the son of William D. Pattison, a local pharmacist, and his wife,
Jessie Heise Pattison.
After attending Lake Forest Academy and graduating from the University of Chicago High School, he received both his Bachelors of Philosophy in 1948 and his M.A. in Geography in 1952 from the University of Chicago. Having initiated studies in Historical Geography at University College London, beginning in 1952, he returned to the University of Chicago, receiving his doctorate there in 1957.
His first academic appointment was as Assistant Professor of Historical Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. Having expanded his attention to include historical and philosophical studies in education, he took an appointment at San Fernando Valley State College, North Ridge, California and shortly thereafter, in 1966, opened an academic career in Geography and Education at the University of Chicago. He continued there until retirement as Associate Professor in 1991. Between then and his adoption of residence in Valparaiso, he served in a non-academic advisory position at the University of Chicago.
From among his publications, he will be best remembered for "Beginning of the American Rectangular Land Survey System, 1784-1800," and for "The Four Traditions of Geography."
He is World War II veteran, having served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1945.
In 1961, he married Rhoda Louise Heinecke, a graduate of Valparaiso University, and to their marriage were born Margaret C. Pattison Habelt and W. David Pattison. Widowed in 1994, he is survived by both his children, his son-in-law, Peter Habelt, and his grandson, William Paul Habelt.
A memorial service will be held at Bartholomew's Funeral Home at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 3, 1998. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to VNA Hospice Home Care."