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By John Bowker, February 2020

Dan Patch can’t be with us tonight so I went over to see him earlier today where he is recuperating from a fall he suffered a few days ago.  Linda and I, and the Patches, go back more than 70 years to the time when Dan was a teacher at Middlebury High School in Vermont.  In fact, Linda and I met in that school in the 1940s and Mary Van Wyck was our Physics teacher.  She met Dan there and became his wife shortly after we both graduated. 


50 years later, one day while I was out trimming our hedge on Fort Duquesna Drive, this lady came walking down the sidewalk and, when she got to our light post by the driveway, she stopped and cleared her throat.  I glanced up, smiled and said ‘hello’.  She told me she just had to stop because years ago she had known a person with my name who was dating a girl named Linda (as shown on our lamp post).  I asked her name and shook my head when she told me Mary Patch.  “Of course,” she went on, “I was then known as Miss Van Wyck”.  I lost it.  I yelled out for Linda and we were all on the edge of tears.  Linda ran in the house, pulled out a copy of our Yearbook, and there was our mention of Mary Van Wyck as our favorite teacher.  In 2010, we had our Vermont high school send us a list of all its graduates with a Florida Zip Code mailing address and we invited 54 of them to a Saturday afternoon event here. The Patches were the highlights of that celebration.    Sadly, we lost Mary in 2018.


Now the reason Dan’s name comes up at The Sun City Center New England Club Ham and Bean Dinner is because he organized and ran this event for some twenty plus years!  He arranged for this event to be held in Community Hall every year.  He alone planned the menu and went out and bought the food … all of it!  He then recruited people to come in 4 hours early to set up the dining area and get all the food prepared in the kitchen.  Dan invented the idea of having all the menu items served in large dishes, just like when we were all kids at home.  That meant that one or two people from each table could pick up their table’s share of the food without any long lines.  The dinner you feast on tonight will be served in 12 minutes.  Well done, Dan!


Dick Young with Dan Patch (2018)

LInd Bowker, Faye McKeown and Dan Patch (2019)

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