Jenny Patterson — a champion of education, affordable housing and regional transportation in her roles as a school board and Telluride Town Council member — passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Sunday evening. She was 64. Patterson was diagnosed with lung cancer in July, but was doing well recently, by all accounts.
The news has the community “reeling,” longtime friend and neighbor Dave Lamb said.
“If there’s anything I could say about her, it’s that she worked tirelessly and had love for the community, serving on numerous boards and commissions,” he added, before pausing. “ … She was just a really great citizen who had such a love for Telluride and contributed so much to the community.”
Born in Bethesda, Maryland, on March 22, 1955, Patterson grew up on the East Coast and moved to Telluride in 1975. She met future husband Steve “Stiff” Patterson the same year, and the couple settled into their home on Pine Street and started a family.
During her four-plus decades in town, Patterson went on to serve two terms on the Telluride School Board and one on Telluride Town Council. While on council, she was the liaison for the Planning & Zoning Commission, which she was a member of for two years prior to winning a seat on council, and the Open Space Committee. As a school board member, Patterson represented 14 school districts on the state level for the Colorado Association of School Boards for six years, and four years representing all 178 school districts on Colorado High School Activities Association’s Executive Committee.
She regularly attended Historic and Architectural Review Commission, Telluride Housing Authority Subcommittee, Resource Recovery, Traffic Calming and Legal Publishing meetings. Patterson also worked for or was involved with the Mountain Village Metropolitan District, Wilkinson Public Library, hospital district and San Miguel County Transit Advisory Board over the years.
In a 2017 interview with Telluride TV, she said her experience serving on Town Council was great, and she wanted to continue to serve the community.
“It’s awesome when you have so much on the plate, and you bring seven people together with different perspectives and find a way to come together,” she said.
She talked about her affinity for historic preservation and the land use code as well, adding she was proud of the Spruce House affordable housing project, and looked forward to being involved with the creation of Virginia Placer and similar projects like the SMPA Lot and Lot B — now known as Silver Jack and Longwill 16, respectively.
When host Colin Sullivan asked her what she considered the most unique aspect of Telluride, Patterson answered it’s the overwhelming sense of community, especially given how multi-generational the town is.
“It is what makes us great,” she said.
Lamb, along with fellow Patterson family friend and neighbor Sam Siegel, explained that Pine Street embodied that idea of community.
“It was an amazing neighborhood and group of families,” Lamb said.
“There was a true neighborhood feel to this block,” said Siegel, who moved to Telluride with Stiff in 1973, adding, “Jenny was always dedicated to the community. Community was always important to her, and she wanted to get involved. She’s very caring and giving. … She was really good in all the roles she held.”
Amy Levek — who worked alongside Patterson on many community endeavors, including the creation of the San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation — will remember her friend for all the good she did during her time here.
“I'll miss Jenny and her way of always considering community first in her decisions while she was on Town Council,” she said. “She loved this town and always did her best to make it better.”
There are plans to hold a memorial service, but details weren’t immediately available as of press time Tuesday afternoon.