Theodore Patchen

Date of Birth

July 18, 1926

Date of Death

November 19, 2019

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Theodore Patchen, known as Ted died peacefully on November 19, 2019, at age 93. He was a long term Santa Barbara resident and retired Santa Barbara High School teacher.

Ted was endlessly curious and interested in the world around him. He loved to tell jokes, play pranks, and tease. He was an artist; a lover of poetry, a sailor, a builder and handyman who found unique ways to jerry-rig all things. Even in his last year, when his mobility had greatly decreased, his morning question to his wife Lydie was “What are we going to do today?”

Ted was born in 1926 and grew up in northern California during the Depression. Like many Depression era children, Ted and his sister Mary were often “farmed out” to families so his single mother could work to support them. In hindsight, Ted commented that while the family was very poor, his childhood was enjoyable and interesting as he was exposed to life on farms in rural parts of California.

Ted graduated from Grant Union High in Sacramento in 1947. His college education was interrupted by WW II. He attended an Engineering Science and Management War Training program at Stanford and then was drafted into the military, serving in the Philippines. When the war ended, he completed his education at UC Berkeley. During these college years, he began a lifelong love of sailing. He managed to purchase a sloop, the Socorro, which he sailed all around the bay with his lifetime friend Jeep.

Ted’s real calling was to be a teacher. So after graduation from Cal, and a brief period of working as a chemist and salesman, Ted attended San Jose State University to earn his teaching credential.

On a sailing trip to Mexico he saw Santa Barbara for the first time and decided he wanted to live there. It became his home for 56 years. He first taught at Santa Barbara High School for a couple of years in the late fifties. In 1958, he saw an ad recruiting American teachers to teach around the world at schools on military bases. Intrigued by the prospect of seeing more of the world, he applied and lived abroad for several years. In 1960 Ted taught in Wiesbaden Germany, and there met his German wife to be, Lydie Himpe.

Ted and Lydie became engaged. After they married, Ted and Lydie were stationed in a different country every year, living in Germany, France, Norway, Italy and England. This was a particularly joyful phase of their lives as they shared a love of travel, history, culture, good food, picnicking, and collecting antiques.

Ted returned to Santa Barbara in 1965 and from then on his life revolved around his home life and his job as a teacher. Ted did a phenomenal amount of work on the family home himself – laying concrete patios ,building walls, and landscaping. Shared mealtimes, birthday celebrations, and holidays were very important to him. For a while, he hand made his gifts to his children, and he had a tradition of making Advent calendars for his family until the last few years of his life.

Ted returned to Santa Barbara High school, teaching mostly chemistry. As a teacher, Ted was well loved. He thrived on his job, enjoying his students, and delighted in finding ways to both make sure they understood the material and keep them engaged. He was known for telling jokes and presenting great experiments, and occasionally setting his classroom on fire. Smokey the Bear became his classroom mascot.

In his sixties, Ted retired from teaching. After retirement, he returned to his love of sailing, purchasing another small boat, the Invictus, in which he traveled up and down the coast. Ted remained as active as he could, working out at the YMCA, up until his 92nd year. When he was forced to be more sedentary, he was uplifted by bird watching. He maintained 7 bird feeders in his yard and spent many contented hours observing them.

Ted is survived by Lydie, his wife of 59 years; his children Oona, Michael, and Anneke; his daughter-in –law Kristine, his granddaughter Seneca; his sister Mary; his nephew Eddie; his two grand nephews Ryan and Eric, and their families.


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