BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — Deacon Heyward Patterson loved his community, his church and helping people.
“He was truly called to do the work in the community and he will be missed greatly,” said Leonard Lane, who knew Deacon Patterson for more than 10 years.
Lane and Patterson bonded over volunteering and their faith, and would even sit on the same bench in church every Sunday at the Tabernacle Church of God on Glenwood Avenue.
“Deacon Heyward Patterson was a beautiful wonderful brother to have on your team,” Lane said. “Deacon Patterson was a little bit of everything in this community, he was a greeter, he was an usher, he was a deacon, and most of all he was a community servant.”
“The sweeping, the vacuuming, he would do cleaning. He would help out with the pastor, he would help out with me in the back,” said Penny Beckham, who would volunteer in the soup kitchen at the church with him on a weekly basis. “He would stay here to make sure I was safe and then he would also go up to Tops and make sure those who didn’t have transportation will be able to shop and get their groceries home. He was a man of service.”
Deacon Patterson was one of the 10 lives lost during Saturday’s mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue. Beckham says it won’t be the same without him.
“We were so used to seeing his vehicle every time and to pull up,” she said. “it’s not there is a constant reminder that even before you enter into the church that he’s no longer with us.”
She says something this is still with them, is his smile and encouraging attitude.
“If you know anything about him, he would tell you, I love my church,” Beckham said. “Deacon Patterson would want us to carry on. To give God the glory. To praise his holy name. To help others, to love others. No matter what race, creed, color.”
Deacon Patterson would often give people rides to and from Tops. Because of that, the Basil Dealership donated a new van for the Buffalo F.A.T.H.E.R.S. organization to help keep Deacon Patterson’s legacy and mission going.
Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.