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Remembering Donnie Patten

Dr. Donald (Donnie) V. Patten, former faculty member and alumnus of Emmaus Bible College, went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, April 27, 2016, after being involved in an automobile accident. He was 48.

Donnie attended Emmaus as a student from 1986-89 and 1991-92, and earned his B.S. in Biblical Studies. In 2005, he returned to the college as an employee and served with distinction, first as a staff member and then as a faculty member, until 2012. Dr. Patten was a committed believer, a dedicated husband and father, a passionate teacher, and a lover of God’s Word.

As it is with all Christians, Donnie’s life story is one of redemption. Raised in a godly family in Waterloo, Iowa, Donnie made a profession of faith at age 9, but would later come to see that profession as insincere. After tumultuous high school years, which he spoke of as “living a double life,” Donnie made plans to attend a state university. Because of his wayward lifestyle, his father gave him an ultimatum: stay home or attend Emmaus. Donnie chose Emmaus. He came to genuine faith in Christ in Dave Glock's Life of Christ class, and his life took a dramatic turn.

After completing his degree at Emmaus, Donnie and his wife Sherri moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and he began teaching at Victory Christian School, eventually becoming administrator. After teaching a number of grade levels, Donnie recognized that he was most effective with students at the college level. He pursued his M.Div. in Theology at Covenant Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Saint Louis University (SLU) in preparation for teaching at the college level.

While completing his doctoral work at SLU, Donnie helped develop and implement the use of web-based instructional tools in the classroom. His educational background and expertise with technology applications in education made Donnie a strong candidate to lead the emerging Distance Education department at Emmaus. The college offered Donnie the opportunity, and the family moved to Dubuque in June 2005.

In 2009, Dr. Patten transitioned to a new role as the General Studies program director. In his new position, Donnie taught a number of General Education classes; a few student favorites included Church History, Comparative Religions, and World Geography. He was known for bringing the content to life in unique ways; some might remember his “food fairs” in World Geography, or perhaps “Where in the World Is Dr. Patten?” He also took students on a number of study abroad trips to Italy, which proved to be a life changing experience for many that travelled and studied with him.

Donnie was a beloved teacher and mentor of his students, and his service was characterized by an uncommon commitment to imparting the “Emmaus Experience” to all students he came into contact with. His students knew him as a fellow learner in the classroom who demonstrated a godly humility that carried over into every area of his life.

Benjamin Brown, one of Dr. Patten’s former students, now serves as a faculty member in the General Studies department at Emmaus, teaching many of the same courses taught by Donnie. Ben cites the instruction and mentorship of Dr. Patten as an influential factor for pursuing his chosen profession:

Dr. Patten loved to teach and all of his students knew it. He was a master of his content, but also a master of empathy. He knew his students well, and class with him felt like a family gathering. We were learning together. Further, he modeled humility as he taught his students to walk in the shoes of the people of the past and present. He was an inspiration to young teachers like me of passion for content and compassion for people. To him, it wasn’t just about knowing history, it was about “doing history.” He succeeded not just in shaping better historians, but in shaping better men and women who were more like Christ. Finally, Dr. Patten was a man who understood grace. His testimony of grace received from his professors at Emmaus taught him to show grace to his own students, to give the benefit of the doubt without lowering standards. He inspired me to do the same.

“Donnie was incredibly passionate about the content he taught,” said Dr. Lisa Beatty, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “He viewed the general studies as an integral part of the educational experience and threw himself headlong into making the content come alive to his students. He also had a love for the Word of God and Christian theology, which he infused into all of his classes.”

Outside of the classroom, Donnie was characterized by a love of life. He loved to travel to new places, ski, fish, and play racquetball—soundly defeating most opponents, as many will recall with some chagrin. He was an avid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, enduring much good-natured teasing during his sojourn in “Cubs territory,” as he referred to it. Above all things, he cherished spending time with his family.

Donnie is survived by his wife, Sherri, his daughter, Leah (age 18), and his son, Jonah (age 12). Please pray with us for the Patten family during this time of grief and loss.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, May 14th, at First Evangelical Free Church in Manchester, MO. If you wish to make a donation in Donnie’s honor, memorial gifts may be made to Emmaus Bible College or to St. Louis University.

Donnie loved Emmaus—those who served with him here loved his infectious joy and passion for teaching. We are thankful to God for the life of Donald V. Patten and his profound and positive impact on the college and in the lives of his students.

Posted on Wed, May 4, 2016 filed under Faculty, Memorial, General Education 


From His Students

Thank you, Dr. Patten! I truly enjoy your classes! You are so real with us, and I appreciate that!

I learned so much and have really loved this class. I would love to learn more from you. You have really opened by eyes to history!

Dr. Patten is smart and enthusiastic, a really good teacher. Really seemed to care about the students' well-being.

He does a good job of caring about the students individually and remembers specifics about what's going on in their lives. He is humble and teachable, which I appreciate.

Dr. Patten is an amazing teacher. Wish I could have taken more classes with him.

Thank you for your passion and love for world geography, and your willingness to learn with us along the way.

I very much enjoyed this class. Dr. Patten was very patient and flexible--excellent qualities in a professor.

I really appreciate what Dr. Patten has taught me in this class. He is passionate about the subject and that makes class more interesting and fun. He has the knowledge to teach us, but overall he has the wisdom to impact our lives.

"Be a John Mark" Chapel Message

Listen to a chapel message given by Dr. Patten at Emmaus Bible College on September 18, 2009. An encouraging and challenging exhortation to be a John Mark, and finish the race strong.