William T. PattenWilliam T. Patten was born August 10th, 1867, on a homestead farm in Sullivan County, Indiana. Several members of his family served in the Union Army during the Civil War, including his father, grandfather, and four uncles. He attended school sporadically while working on his family's farm and then taught in the county schools for two years before enrolling at Indiana University at the age of 21. Patten was a diligent student. While working his way through college he also found time to participate in oratorical contests and to serve as associate editor of the Indiana Student newspaper. He received his AB degree in 1893 in history and maintained his interest in the subject throughout his life.
After graduation, William Patten settled in Indianapolis, where he made a career in real estate and politics, including service as county auditor. During the First World War he was deeply involved in relief efforts organized by the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. He remained appreciative of the educational opportunities that IU had afforded him, and toward the end of his life established the foundation that bears his name. He died in 1936 following several years of ill health and was buried in Sullivan, Indiana.