As the nation bids farewell to Ronald Reagan, those who crossed his path are recalling memories of our 40th President. That includes a Colorado Springs man, who had the rare opportunity to work with President Reagan in the White House in 1983 and 1984.
Kevin Patterson had been in the Marines for 5 years. His final assignment---serving as a social aide to the President for 18 months. Some of his buddies called it “Pretty Boy duty.” But Patterson was single, more than 6 feet tall and had the security clearance to be given this job. "I escorted Princess Caroline," he recalls.
Wearing $450 pants with real gold thread, the former Marine captain worked his way up to the job of introducing President Reagan to White House guests during official state events. "The first time you say it, it feels extremely nervous. You want to make sure you don't get tongue tied," he says.
Being a social aide was actually a secondary duty. Patterson worked all day at his regular duties. He says it was high pressure, and he wasn’t even allowed to sit in those pricey pants. In a way, the White House became a second office for him.
And there are moments he’ll never forget. During one event, the President and first lady stood on a Persian rug but it kept flopping over onto the President's foot. "Every 2 or 3 people, I'd fix the rug. After 300 people there was a tap on my shoulder and he said, ‘We need to get some duct tape.’" He says that's just one example of President's Reagan’s famous sense of humor.
Patterson remembers the first lady was very gracious, but always wanted to know where the President was. "After watching her husband get shot, she was very protective, but was a pleasure to work with."
Another memory---the President often made ordinary public tours very extraordinary. "People would be going through the tour. There'd be some commotion and he'd be shaking hands." It's what he calls a “unique experience” he'll never forget.
Patterson even was in the room as the President and high-ranking democrats hashed out disagreements. He says the experience taught him about how democracy and the government really work.