Biography

Thomas D. Patton Photo (c. 1892)

Photograph of Thomas Patton, captain in the first basketball game.

Dr. James Naismith with Thomas D. Patton

Thomas Duncan Patton was born April 15, 1865, in Danville, Quebec, Canada. After graduating from high school, he worked several years in a machine shop. He then began work with the Danville YMCA. He enjoyed his work with the YMCA and desired further training. This led him to the International YMCA Training School, now Springfield College. He left Canada with his future professor, James Naismith, who was starting his first semester in a one-year certification program to become a YMCA Physical Director. The men arrived in Springfield for the first time on the evening of September 2, 1890.  

To see his application to the YMCA Training School, now Springfield College, click here.

Patton entered the secretarial program, which was designed to train future secretaries for the YMCA. Upon his graduation on May 24, 1892, he began a long tenure as a secretary with the Association. His first nine years of service were split between the YMCA branches in Montreal and Winnipeg.

Following that, he spent several years abroad, first working as the branch secretary for the Central European YMCA for a year before traveling to India, serving as the Acting General Secretary for the Calcutta YMCA for two years. He then resumed his travels for the Association, making stops in China, Korea, and Japan as the International Deputation Secretary of City Associations. 

Patton returned to Canada in 1905, where he would spend the next 21 years affiliated with the Association across Canada. Several of those years were spent assisting the nation's World War I effort. For ten years Patton was engaged with army work, first as the army work secretary for the soldiers in Winnipeg, and then became the army work, secretary supervisor. He concluded his secretaryship with the Association in stints as National Territorial Secretary and Territorial Secretary in Winnipeg and Toronto respectively.

Even in retirement, Patton continued to show his dedication towards helping others while practicing clean, virtuous living. He worked as an organizer of the Ontario Prohibition Union for a year before moving to the position of executive secretary for Dixon Hall, an organization with the mission of ending poverty, social injustices, and isolation in Toronto, for five years. Patton concluded his career serving as Treasurer of the Christian Social Council of Canada for 9 years, after which he concluded his great work with the Association three years in retirement before passing away at the age of 79.

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