Cover photo for David J. Patton's Obituary
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1944 David 2023

David J. Patton

August 29, 1944 — March 7, 2023


David J. Patton

August 29, 1944 – March 7, 2023

Dave Patton loved lines.

He loved the swoopy lines of a fat-fendered street rod and the sleek lines of vintage Corvettes. He loved the fine lines of Native American turquoise jewelry. And, oh, how he loved to draw the lines that go into the creation of a successful print ad, direct mail piece or digital communication.

The world lost the consummate advertising design professional—as well as husband, brother, father and grandfather—when Dave Patton, 78, died on March 7, 2023, due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease and Covid in Portage, Michigan.

Dave was a kind and generous soul with a wry wit and sarcastic sense of humor. He loved music and would break into his signature dance moves every time he heard a good song.  His moves were part of family legend. His love of early rock ‘n roll and Motown music and patented steps led to an appearance on Club 1270, a dance program for teenagers on WXYZ TV during the early ‘60s.

Dave was born in Detroit on August 29, 1944 to James (Bud) and Bonney (Babcock) Patton. The young, rambunctious Dave Patton, a kid with a short attention span, was always drawing in class. In high school, he won the Senior Award for “Best Artist.”

As an adolescent, Dave was a fleet-footed running back for Pierce Junior High in Birmingham, MI which evolved into a lifelong, fanatical love affair with University of Michigan football. He was also a big fan of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers. After graduating from Birmingham Seaholm High School in 1963, he enlisted in the Navy and traveled the world aboard the U.S.S. Garcia.  After he returned home from the Navy, he enrolled at the School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, which would become the Center for Creative Studies.

Dave met his sweetheart, Diane Morrison, at age 16. They wed shortly after his return from the service in 1967 and were married for 56 years. As a devoted father he coached Little League, faithfully attended ice skating and dancing lessons, drove the family minivan around the Midwest and Canada for his son’s hockey games, and passed his design genes onto both of his children who create jewelry, handblown glass and other forms of art.

Fine art – paintings, photography, sculptures, metal and ceramic works were often at the center of the Patton family’s life.  Artistic discoveries during travels to New York, Taos, Naples, Fairbanks, Rome and other faraway places resulted in a collection that set the Patton home apart.

Dave’s career as an advertising designer and art director began at Meldrum & Fewsmith in Detroit. He then moved to Ross Roy, Michigan’s largest independent advertising agency at the time, where he worked on such accounts as Kmart, Kelsey-Hayes and Federal Mogul. When he starting working on the Chrysler Corporation account, Dave designed the likes of giant foam-board spark plugs that hung from showroom ceilings and “dimensional mail packages” – communications in tubes and boxes – that dared customers not to open them.

During the early ‘90s he was named co-creative director for automotive direct marketing at Ross Roy, helping to manage a team of writers and art directors who produced all of Chrysler’s owner communications including 4-color magazines, newsletters and direct mail packages that no one in their right mind would describe as “junk mail.”

However, his proudest achievement came during the year he worked on the Gulfstream Aerospace account and designed a nine-part mail program to sell the Gulfstream IV, a $25 million business airplane, to the 2,000 known prospects for it in the world. The sale of seven airplanes were attributed to the program. It garnered for Dave and the team of who worked on it, a Gold Echo award from the Direct Marketing Association of America.

As his career wound down, Dave also worked on Ford at J. Walter Thomson and Mazda at W.B. Doner. A 40-year career in advertising ended with 8 years as co-owner of his own “shop,” Bulldog ’n’ Buck Communications. In retirement, Dave expressed his artistic talents exploring photography, making ceramics and creating illustrations with colored pencils.  He and Diane loved to attend art fairs sparking   Dave to create his own art – unique colorful, abstract creations of lacquered acrylics on wood – made to look like framed ceramic tiles – which they sold at art fairs traveling around Michigan.

Dave is survived by his wife, Diane; children Michael (Katie) and Marci Frederickson (Roy); three grandchildren—Brett, Megan and Ziggy Moon; and sister Linda Patton (Arnold). His family and close friends will remember Dave as the creative, strong, supportive rock of the family who never turned down a dessert in his life.  Those who worked with him will remember Dave Patton for his extraordinary design talent and the fact that he didn’t suffer fools.

A Celebration of Life is being planned for later this summer for friends and family. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Michigan Parkinson’s Foundation. ( To view Dave's personalized webpage please visit

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of David J. Patton, please visit our flower store.


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