Elizabeth "Beth" (Royal) Patton

April 18, 1935 ~ August 20, 2021 (age 86)


Elizabeth (Beth) Royal Patton of Kingston Road, Elbridge, NY, died peacefully on August 20, 2021, after a sudden but extended illness.  Born in 1935 in Millen, Georgia, she was the only daughter of Elizabeth and Harold Royal. She attended primary and high schools in Millen and Cordele, Georgia. She was an accomplished pianist in high school and began her college education at Shorter College as a music major. She then transferred to the Georgia State College for Women at Milledgeville, GA where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature.  She received a Peabody College fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee (now part of Vanderbilt University) where she earned master’s degrees in Education and English. While at Peabody she met her future husband, Louis Patton, in 1957 and got married in 1958. They gave birth to their only child, John, in 1961. She and Louis began teaching high school in Nashville. In 1965, they moved to Pearl River, NY and began teaching there. In 1967, when Louis received a post as an Economics Professor at Cayuga Community College, they moved to Skaneateles where Elizabeth got a position teaching English at the Skaneateles Central School. Over the years, she taught eighth through twelfth grades.  During that time, she developed a creative writing curriculum and started a creative writing program for seniors. She taught there until her retirement in 1982. Following her retirement, she maintained contact with dozens of students and continued to teach, mentor and befriend these former students. In the last line of one of her poems, she wrote that one of her greatest desires was that someone might say, ‘She was the teacher who taught me to write.’ Later, Elizabeth taught creative writing classes at Cayuga Community College and English classes at the Auburn Correctional Facility in their higher education program. She was even asked by the inmates to be the speaker during their commencement. 

Elizabeth was a prolifically published writer. Her poetry, short stories, plays, and essays appeared over a 50-year period in regional, national and international journals including the New York Times. In 1994, she was a finalist in the Flannery O’Connor Award for a short story written in O’Connor’s iconic literary style.  Elizabeth published three volumes of poetry: Late Harvest, published by Pudding House Press in 2009, Autumn Notes, published in 2021 by Downtown Books, NY, and Seasons of the Mind, published by Clare Songbirds Publishing  House in 2017. In the fall of 2021, her full-length collection of short stories, Feeling for Eggs, written over a 40-year-period, will be published posthumously by Clare Songbirds Publishing House.  As a local poet celebrity, she was involved in many public readings of her work.

Elizabeth was also an accomplished fine artist with works in photography, oil painting, and etchings.  This artwork received much recognition by lovers of art and art collectors. She was a founding member of the Skaneateles/Marcellus Art Guild and the founding member of a writers’ group which met regularly over a 20-year-period. Elizabeth was an avid traveler and especially enjoyed her many trips to England, Scotland, and Italy. She was a consummate reader who had a personal library of thousands of books. In her later years, she actively participated in a research book club with women in the Jordan and Elbridge, NY area.  She presented on such varied topics as Jane Austen and the Civil War period.  

Elizabeth enjoyed visiting bookstores, serving tea to her constant visitors, gardening, and corresponding with former students, southern cousins, and her remarkably large circle of friends. She had the special ability to make each friend feel unique and treasured, sending them clippings and articles and items of special interest. She celebrated life and enjoyed treating her friends to several of her themed birthday parties. Elizabeth is fondly remembered for her red lipstick, Tabu perfume, and her long dark hair combed into a trademark bun. Elizabeth was predeceased by her husband, Louis, in 2007.  She is survived by her son John Patton (Michele) of St. Paul, Minnesota, and sister-in-law Nancy Patton (Roy Costa), brother-in-law Samuel Vance, cousins Cameron Kay, Beverly Gamble and Jenny Herrington as well as nephews and nieces. A ‘Celebration of Elizabeth’s Life’ will be scheduled at the Springside Inn in Auburn, NY at a date and time to be determined.   

Donations in the memory of Elizabeth may be sent to: The National M.S. Society, Habitat for Humanity, the Elbridge Library or the Baltimore Woods Nature Center.


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