Michigan leaders react to passing of longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson

Regional leader died Saturday at Oakland County home

DETROIT – L. Brooks Patterson, longtime Oakland County executive, has died at the age of 80.

Patterson died at 5:30 a.m. Saturday at his Independence Township home surrounded by family and friends after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Patterson announced in March that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. During the news conference, he announced that he would not seek reelection in 2020, but said he had "every intention" of finishing his term. 

Patterson, 80, was first elected county executive in 1992. Before then, he served as Oakland County Prosecutor for 16 years. He was reelected to a seventh term in 2012.

In addition to several controversial comments in past years, Patterson has had serious health issues, including injuries from a car crash in 2012.

According to Patterson's office, he took office Jan. 1, 1993 after serving 15 years as Oakland County prosecutor.

Michigan leaders issued the following statements remembering the late regional leader: 

“I’m saddened by the passing of Brooks Patterson. You never had to wonder where you stood with Brooks, and I always appreciated that. He had the uncanny ability to make you laugh, even when you completely disagreed with what he was saying, and we disagreed plenty. But we worked well together because we understood and respected each other. He fought for what he believed was best for his county every single day. When I took office as executive, Wayne County needed to implement major fiscal measures to avoid bankruptcy. Brooks generously lent high-level Oakland County staff to share their expertise as we created our Recovery Plan. That played a significant role in the Wayne County turnaround and I will be forever grateful for that. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.” -- Wayne County Executive Warren Evans

"Brooks Patterson was larger than life. He did not mince words nor suffer fools. Brooks had a vision for Oakland County that made it one of the most prosperous places in the country. He dedicated his life to public service and was a champion for his fellow citizens. Michigan has lost a leader and a visionary, but his legacy will live on. Those of us who had the opportunity to know Brooks are better off for the experience. My thoughts and prayers are with the Patterson family and all those who feel the loss of such an incredible man." -- Republican Michigan Senator Mike Shirkey  

"I was deeply saddened to learn that L. Brooks Patterson has passed. Brooks was an American original, always unabashedly himself. While at time controversial, he devoted his life to public service and amassed a record of success in county government that is unmatched. While Brooks and I frequently disagreed, we always maintained a strong friendship. We shared a lot of laughs together and he will be missed." -- Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO Detroit Regional Chamber

"The Board of Commissioners has lost a tremendous partner with the passing of County Executive L. Brooks Patterson,” said Board Chairman David T. Woodward. “His long and dedicated career in public service has resulted in an incredibly impactful legacy in Oakland County and our region. Our deepest sympathy goes to his family, friends and dedicated staff during this difficult time. The Board respectfully requests that all individuals take this time to set aside their political differences and reflect on L. Brooks Patterson’s life and legacy of dedicated service to the people of Oakland County.

This is an emotional time. Brooks has been a strong leader,” said Board Vice Chairwoman Marcia Gershenson. Our thoughts are with the Patterson family. Brooks Patterson had a special knack for hiring terrific people to implement his very creative, innovative ideas. He will be sorely missed,” --  Republican Caucus Vice Chairperson Shelley Goodman Taub., Oakland County Board of Commissioners 

"Today, is the end of an era in Oakland County. Brooks Patterson was a steadfast leader, who safeguarded Oakland County's fiscal stability in good times and in bad. His policies and focus in leading this country into the 21st century will never be forgotten. With Brooks, we did not have to wonder what was on his mind - his quick wit and sometimes sharp tongue never left any doubt where he stood. Whether you agreed with him on an issue or not, yo always knew his unwavering concern had the best interests of Oakland County - first and always. He devoted his whole adult life to Oakland County. I knew him as Oakland County Prosecutor while I was a patrol officer and as the executive while I have been the Sheriff. In both roles, I was appreciative of his dedication to public safety and investing in law enforcement advancements for our communities. His ability to make wise financial decisions for the residents of Oakland County will have a lasting impact on all of us for years to come, He will be greatly missed. His family and loved ones are in my prayers." -- Michael J. Bouchard, Oakland County Sheriff

“Brooks Patterson was always my friend. We could disagree, but he did it with such humor it was always respectful. He loved Michigan, he loved Oakland county, his family and friends. I hope he and John are sitting together and enjoying the fruits of their lives work. This has been a long hard year of losses of giants for this state.” -- Democratic Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell 

“I was fortunate to be one of the many who counted Brooks Patterson as both a personal friend and a trusted business ally. While his physical presence has been lost, his great legacy of stewardship to the communities he served has left an indelible mark that will stand the test of time,” -- McLaren Health Care president and CEO Philip A. Incarnati 

"L. Brooks Patterson devoted his life to public service and the fruits of his leadership touched countless lives. In an era when elected officials far too often take the easy way out, Brooks stood firm to his principles and never shied away from a fight. His courage of conviction, wisdom, and sense of humor made even political foes friends, and helped Oakland County to become one of our nation’s best places to live. L. Brooks Patterson will be greatly missed by Republicans across our state and his family and friends have my prayers.” -- Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox 

“L. Brooks Patterson had a profound influence on Beaumont Health and our patients throughout his impressive and meaningful career. His support over the years helped us bring advanced medical services to our community, such as proton therapy. He advocated for our mental health hospital. And, his passionate leadership helped launch the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, which will shape the future of medicine for generations to come. We send our condolences to his family.” -- John Fox, Beaumont Health CEO

"Nobody ever fought harder for what he believed in than my dear friend L. Brooks Patterson. At his core, he believed that government was about serving the people of the community and he spent a lifetime in public service living up to that ideal. For decades, he set the gold standard for government leadership. Rest in Peace, Brooks, we are going to miss you." -- Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Sue Miller


About the Authors: