Clarence Patrick, Retired WFU Sociologist, Dies at Age 91

Clarence H. Patrick, founder of Wake Forest University’s sociology department, died March 17 at his Winston-Salem residence. A professor emeritus of sociology at Wake Forest, he was 91.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, March 20, at 2 p.m. in Davis Chapel on the Wake Forest campus. Memorials may be made to the Clarence H. and Adele Patrick Lectureship Fund in care of the Wake Forest Sociology Department, P.O. Box 7808, Winston-Salem, N.C. 27109.

Patrick, who earned statewide recognition as an authority on criminology, retired from Wake Forest in 1978. He was also well known for his community involvement in Winston-Salem, particularly for his work in behalf of improved race relations.

Edwin G. Wilson, the university’s provost during Patrick’s time on the faculty, described him as a dedicated scholar and citizen.

“He was a professor who took seriously one’s obligation to society. He not only taught in the classroom, but also took an interest in the larger problems of the outside world,” said Wilson, senior vice president and professor of English at Wake Forest. Patrick graduated from Wake Forest in 1931. He began teaching at the university in 1946 while still a professor at Meredith College. A year later, he became the first Wake Forest faculty member to teach sociology full time and worked toward establishing an independent sociology department, which opened in fall 1948. Patrick served as department chair until 1964.

In 1953, Patrick took a three-year leave of absence from Wake Forest to help develop a new three-person parole board at the request of North Carolina Gov. William B. Umstead. Patrick was a member and chairman of the North Carolina probation system from 1957 to 1970, while continuing to teach at Wake Forest. He also served on the state’s inmate grievance commission.

In Winston-Salem, Patrick was a member of the city’s interracial Goodwill Committee, the city’s Urban League and its Commission on Self-Reliance. During local lunch counter protests in 1960, Patrick and his students obtained permission from store managers to interview customers about their views on desegregated lunch counter service, according to a 1978 edition of Wake Forest Magazine. The results were included in a report that “proved to be a major force in the changes in Winston-Salem that year,” the magazine stated.