Donald Magarey Patterson was born in Naracoorte on September 3, 1941, the second child of Alex and Jean.
He was proud to be the fourth generation of Pattersons to live in Australia and the third generation to live and farm on their Bool Lagoon property “Iona”. Seventy-five years later, his love for Iona had not diminished.
Don married Lois in 1959 and had three children Julie, Kaye and Craig.
Don loved dogs and children. He was often seen with dogs of all sizes and breeds hanging all over him on the motorbike coming up the driveway, with five kids and two dogs his all-time record.
He was a proud farmer. Wool industry legend “Snow” Fryar said: “Don was a methodical grazier and farmer (who) had a great love of sheep and cattle, especially his dogs. Don’s main aim was quality – produce and purchase the highest quality livestock. Don was an astute livestock and wool judge, a great bloke and mate to many.”
Long-time Bool Lagoon neighbour and friend Richard Bourne added: “His achievements and experiences through his music are well documented, but as a community we all felt proud that he, as one of us, achieved so much, not only here but across the world.
Children were drawn to him, men respected and admired him and the ladies loved him. He was really one of the very best
“Don was blessed with great physical strength, good looks and good health. He never complained, even if we knew he had a problem he would keep it to himself. One of his family members said to me: ‘You could cut his leg off and he would make out it didn’t hurt’.
“He had the ability to relate to people of all walks of life, rarely criticised anyone and never looked down on people no matter who they were. Children were drawn to him, men respected and admired him and the ladies loved him. He was really one of the very best.”
Don was an active member of the Bool Lagoon CFS, including captain for several years, was also on the Bool Lagoon Hall committee and joined the Naracoorte Lodge No 42 in April 1963 and held every position before becoming Master in 1982. He received his 50 years jewel in 2013.
Don joined the Caledonian Society aged 13 and was made an honorary piper aged 15, a position he held continually to his death. He served two terms as Chief, 1970-1972 and 1979-1981. He replaced his father Alex as patron in 2002 and was awarded a life membership in 1982. He was a piper at possibly every event they held.
Don had wanted to learn to play the bagpipes since age six and pestered neighbour Lindsay Hood who told him he would teach him when he was 11 years old if he was still keen. So sure enough, Don joined the Naracoorte Highland Pipe Band at the age of 11 as a learner piper.
He became a passionate band member and worked his way through the ranks over the years until the election of officers in 1971 when he was appointed to the position of Pipe Major, a position he held until the end.
As well as being a life member of the Naracoorte band, he earned the same honour with the South Australian Pipe Band Association in 1995 and the Australian Pipe Band Association SA Branch in 1999.
Don was awarded Naracoorte Citizen of the Year in 1996 for his contribution to the community.
Bagpipes were a huge part of Don’s life and he played at many events all over the region, including weddings, funerals and concerts. He played at the Naracoorte Anzac Day Service for many years and stood proudly on the balcony as the Lone Piper, then on to the Apsley Anzac Day Service where he was once again the proud Lone Piper.
Barely a day went by in Don’s life that his beloved bagpipes were silent. If he wasn’t learning new tunes on his chanter, he would be practising as he set his own standard high and strove for perfection with his music.
Undoubtedly the highlight of his piping career was playing as an invited member of the Rats of Tobruk Memorial Pipes & Drums on two occasions, 1997 and 2001 in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland. This also gave him the opportunity to see a lot of Scotland, a country a piece of his heart belonged. He also went on to play at Andre Rieu Australian Tour in 2008 in Adelaide, the Basel Tattoo in 2009 in Switzerland and Menin Gate Ypres Belgium in 2011. He was lucky enough to be chosen as the Lone Piper at the Menin Gate.
His favourite was his first time in Edinburgh, he was so honoured and proud to perform and said his emotions were high when he marched over the drawbridge of Edinburgh Castle with the massed bands for the first time.
Don was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and Myeloma in October 2014, but after a course of chemotherapy went into remission and led a normal life until February 2017 when a routine blood test showed the Myeloma had become active. Sadly he died on April 9 after a short but brave battle.
Don’s family will remember him as a hard-working, honest man who loved a good yarn with anyone about anything, he was very knowledgeable but only offered advice if asked for it.
One of his sayings was: “It’s nice to be important but more important to be nice.”
OBITUARY: Painter and community man John Fabris