State Senator Kay Patterson, one of South Carolinaâ€™s most famous characters in the legislature, has announced that he will retire this year after 34 years in office.
â€œWhen I started,â€ Patterson told reporters of his election in 1974, â€œworking up here was very pleasant and you could get things done, and I enjoyed it.â€ Now, he says, things are different: â€œYou have little boys coming up here now, donâ€™t hardly know where the restroom or the outhouse is, (and they) chair a committee. Here I am a hundred years old.â€
I must admit that to a degree, I can relate. I suspect most of us can one way or another.
Now 77, Patterson is a breast cancer survivor â€” yes, men can get breast cancer â€” and wears a pacemaker. â€œI ainâ€™t gonna be around here much longer,â€ he jokes. â€œWhen you get to be 76, youâ€™re headed to the cemetary, honey,â€ he told a reporter last year.
He says after he retires, he wants to work in his yard, travel, and spend time with his grandkids.
He jokingly told Columbia television station WLTX-TV that he is likely to be remembered as someone â€œwho raised a whole lot of hellâ€ to help people.
Over the years, he has often used colorful language to go after his opponents, and has not hesitated to go into what might today be described as â€œebonicsâ€ when the mood strikes him.
You can get a good idea of how outspoken and how amusing he is by this article over at The Palmetto Scoop blog from last month. An angry constituent had written to Patterson complaining about health care coverage and retirement benefits and including a slam about state legislators taking care of themselves more so than the voters theyâ€™re supposed to be serving:
â€œI will work my a** off untill [sic] God knows when to pay for health insurance and a retirement I can live on. It is no wonder you guys try so hard to keep getting elected.â€
Patterson, as you might have guessed, didnâ€™t take the remark sitting down:
â€œFor 77 years Iâ€™ve worked my ass-off for every damn thing that I ownâ€“which ainâ€™t much! And I sure-as-hell donâ€™t need smart-ass-remarks from people lilke [sic] you & thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m going home in June! In conclusion, if you want the same retirement plan like mine, then get elected like I did, spend 34 years in & retire!â€
There arenâ€™t many like Kay Patterson. Itâ€™ll be hard to imagine the Statehouse without him.