.grecaptcha-badge { visibility: hidden; }
Close this search box.

WEATHER ALERT: Severe storms expected late this afternoon and evening

Hundreds celebrate the life of STEM educator William Patterson

William Jordan Patterson spoke in honor of his father at a memorial service at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on April 14, 2024.

URBANA – People gathered to celebrate the life of STEM educator William Maurice Patterson at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday.

Patterson died on April 2 while traveling. He was 58 years old. He is survived by his wife, Lori, three children, a grandchild, and a sister.

Lori Gold Patterson swaying to the music performed at the service for her husband William Patterson on April 14, 2024. Mae Antar/IPM News

Foellinger Great Hall was packed for the first half of the service.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” said Patterson’s cousin Marcus Reid. “He was a giant to so many people and he meant so much to so many people from all walks of life, all different ethnicities, all represented here today.”

Patterson aimed to bring STEM education to Black and underprivileged communities. 

He used his love for Hip Hop as a teaching tool to connect with these communities.

“He meant so much. I mean, it was almost like bringing what we know – in our community, in our neighborhood – he brought it to the world,” said Reid. “So, as he invited so many different people to our world, and to use hip hop to do it.”

The Hip Hop Express Double Dutch Boom Bus, founded by the late William Patterson, was parked in front of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on April 14, 2024. Reginald Hardwick/IPM News

The brightly painted Hip Hop Xpress Double Dutch Boom Bus would regularly visit neighborhoods to showcase different technology, like remote control cars and drones. There was also a studio on board. 

They called the service a celebration of his life. 

“It’s a celebration of his life his accomplishments of his journey and what he did, and the testament is right here and with all these people, he has a 1000 of people here to represent him,” said James Pettigrew, longtime friend of Patterson.

The Champaign-Urbana Choir performing in the Foellinger Great Hall in the Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the Service for William Patterson on April 14th. Mae Antar/IPM News

There were more than seven speakers at the service inside Foellinger Great Hall, including children from the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club in Champaign, where Patterson worked in the late 1990s.

Among those who gave eulogies: University of Illinois College of Fine and Applied Arts Dean Kevin Hamilton; University of Illinois College of Education Assistant Professor, Education Policy, Organization and Leadership Malaika Mckee-Culpepper; State Representative Carol Ammons (D-Champaign), and Champaign County Clerk and Recorder Aaron Ammons.

The Champaign-Urbana Community Choir performed.  His son, William Jordan Patterson spoke and played clips of his father. 

Lobby of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts during the after party of William Patterson’s service on April 14th. Mae Antar/IPM News

The service ended with everyone leaving to fill the hall into the lobby of Krannert to attend the after party with food and DJ music. Patterson was an aficionado of Hip Hop music.

A common theme of the service and the note they ended on was “It don’t stop.”

A common phrase used by Patterson meaning that the work doesn’t stop and neither does his legacy and the celebration of his life. 

Picture of Mae Antar

Mae Antar

More Stories From Illinois Public Media

Urbana Mayor Marlin confirms she won’t seek third term

Democrat Diane Marlin is confirming what she has been talking about for more than a year: she’ll step down as Urbana mayor when her current term ends next spring.

“After 8 years on City Council and 8 years as mayor, 16 in city government, is a good long run,” Marlin said in an interview with Illinois Public Media.