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Pat Wylie was a ‘man for all seasons’

Posted: September 14, 2017 4:00 p.m.
Updated: September 15, 2017 1:00 a.m.

With the passing of Pat Wylie this week, Camden has lost a true treasure. Many of us loved him and all of us respected him. He touched the lives of so many of us that his absence will be irreplaceable. To me, he was a mentor and a colleague. But, most of all, he was a dear friend.

My first contact with him was through the written word. In June of 1969, I received a letter from Pat advising me that he had reserved a uniform for me in the University of South Carolina Marching Band. The only qualification was that I was a student of Bill Basden. Pat had a tremendous respect for Mr. Basden’s ability to produce quality musicians. Pat continued this tradition the day he stepped foot in Camden. 

Upon my return to my hometown, I immediately joined the Camden Community Concert Band. Our association blossomed that very first night. It wasn’t long before I knew that he was a great music teacher. And, I did not initially know that he already knew that I was a prankster. According to him, Mr. Basden had told him of some of our actions years before. 

At first, he attempted to be strict with me. Over the nine years that he was my director, he found my antics to the funny and refreshing. At one rehearsal, I brought a bag of hats. After each chart, I would hide behind my music stand and change into a different hat. And, after each rehearsal and concert, I would throw a paper airplane at him. I came close several times, but I never managed to hit him. After his last rehearsal with the band, he brought to me my paper airplane and asked me to sign it. He told me that it was a trophy. In his soul of souls, I think he was a prankster or he wanted to be one.

Pat Wylie was loyal and engaging. He was highly educated and well read. He had knowledge and interest in every subject that we ever discussed. I most enjoyed the dinners we had together and sitting with him on his front porch. We discussed everything from azaleas to zeppelins. I am sure that many of this paper’s readers can same the same -- for he knew no strangers.

Personally, I have a special remembrance of him that I see every day. It is a most gorgeous statuette of a cock-eyed turkey standing on one leg. When he gave it to me, I asked him why. He said, “Rusty, when I saw this, it reminded me of you and I had to get it for you.” 

He was a fun-loving man. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He was a religious man. He was a community leader. He was a musical genius. But, most of all, he was my friend.

Pat Wylie was truly, “a man for all seasons.”

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