Obituary – Gaylen Lee (French) Patterson

Gaylen Lee (French) Patterson

February 23, 1917 – August 22, 2015
Age: 98
Residence: Springfield, MO
Formerly of: Hinsdale, MT


Gaylen Lee Patterson, age 98, of Springfield, passed away Saturday, August 22 at Mercy Villa Nursing Home, where she had been a resident since April, 2015.

She was born February 23, 1917 on a farm in Hinsdale, Montana, to Roy Thomas and Ada May French.  She married LeRoy Arthur Patterson on June 20, 1937 in Joplin, MO, at the home of John F. Morgan, who was the minister of the Oakland Christian Church where they had first met.  She was preceded in death by her husband, her daughter Donna J. Williamson of Springfield, and her brother, A. Dean French of Pickens, SC.

She is survived by her daughter Norma F. Salchow; four grandchildren, George D. Schultz, Jr., Renee M. Pellham, Kevin L. Williamson, and L. Ember Salchow, all of Springfield; three great-grandchildren, Elena B., and husband Waylon Stephens of Kansas City, Tyler B. Messier of Nixa, and Chance L. McPhetridge of Springfield; and two great-great-grandchildren, C. Riley and T. Schaffer Stephens; seven nieces, nephews and their children.

After graduating from Joplin High School in 1934, she married her husband LeRoy who worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone, which required them to relocate several times before eventually settling in Springfield. In 1945, Gaylen began driving Transportation Route for Springfield Demonstration Kindergarten at Rountree School, where she hauled students on wooden benches in the back of her station wagon.  She became an amateur photographer, built her own dark-room, and took photographs of many kindergarten events and school photos.  She was asked by Brebner Walker to take over the costume section for Walker’s Dance Studio on Walnut St, and in 1952, she purchased the costume section of their dance studio and started her own shop.  In Nov. 1963, she moved her shop into a separate building on Jefferson at Harrison, until March of 1971, when she moved into the old Cotter Pharmacy building at Nichols and Main, where she operated The Costume Shop until she was 90.  She used her ingenuity and creativity to make most of the costumes in her shop, and made many costumes for Springfield Little Theater, SMS Theater, Branson shows, various school mascots, and advertising costumes, such as the Stinger Sam Bumble-Bee, along with countless others.  Most customers remember her for her ability to find just what she was looking for, in a building that was stuffed to the rafters with costumes.

She joined the National Costumer’s Association in 1959.  And during her time in the costume business, Gaylen won many trophies and ribbons for costumes she made and presented in competition at the National Costumer’s Association (NCA) conventions.  From 1959 to 2006, she won five First Place Trophies, ten Second Place Trophies, five Third Place Trophies and one ribbon.  She frequently taught classes on applying makeup and making heads out of foam.  She traveled to the NCA’s Annual Convention every year, and only missed one convention between 1959 and 2006, when on a whim she decided to go to Hawaii in

Gaylen was an enterprising, spontaneous person who was ready to go anywhere on little notice—fishing and float trips with her husband, eleven countries in Europe with her daughter, or volleyball and hockey games with her great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday August 30 at Herman H. Lohmeyer Funeral Home, 500 E. Walnut Street, Springfield.  A graveside ceremony will be held at 10 AM, Monday, August 31 at White Chapel Memorial Gardens with Rev. Doug Burwick officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Crosslines, 627 N Glenstone Ave.Springfield, MO 65802. Permanent online condolences, stories and photos may be shared at

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500 E. Walnut Street
Springfield, MO 65806
Phone: (417) 862-4433
Visit WebsiteVisitation InformationLocation: Herman Lohmeyer Funeral Home
Date/Time: 2 – 5 p.m. Sun, August 30, 2015
500 E. Walnut Street
Springfield, MO
Phone: (417) 862-4433
Service InformationLocation: White Chapel Memorial Gardens
Date/Time: 10 a.m. Mon, August 31, 2015
5234 W. State Highway EE
Springfield, MO
Phone: 417866-5012