Giving from the Heart
"We went to museums and did a lot of window shopping on the weekends, just walking up and down Fifth Avenue."
In 1955 Marianna Patterson’s older brother, Richard J. Reynolds III 58LL.M. introduced his fraternity brother, Solon, to the girl with whom he would commit to spend the rest of his life.
It turned out to be a great match, but their relationship wasn’t without challenges. “I’m Greek Orthodox and Marianna is Roman Catholic,” Solon said. “Now it’s not that big a deal, but in the 1960s, it was unheard of for an Orthodox and Catholic to marry.”
Undeterred, the pair were wed on October 29, 1960. They moved to a little apartment in Manhattan while Solon Patterson continued to experience managing the portfolios of the founders of Vick Chemical Company. Marianna Patterson worked for Bankers Trust Company doing economic research.
Money was tight, but being young and in love, they didn’t mind.
“We had a wonderful time,” said Marianna Patterson. “We went to museums and did a lot of window shopping on the weekends, just walking up and down Fifth Avenue. New York is a great place to be when you’re young.”
In 1962, the couple returned to Atlanta where Solon Patterson took a position as a portfolio manager for Montag & Caldwell – the only professional, independent investment counseling firm in Atlanta at the time. Six years later, he led the firm’s entry into the burgeoning mutual fund industry, creating the South’s first mutual fund. His work proved instrumental in building the firm into the powerhouse it became – and launched his own rise to chairman and CEO.
As Solon Patterson changed the face of Atlanta’s investment industry, Marianna Patterson devoted herself to the equally important work of raising two young sons, John and Joe, and initiating the family’s considerable involvement in the non-profit world.
“One of the most important things my parents taught me was not putting value in things,” John Patterson said. “Having a fancy house, driving a fancy car – none of that is going to bring you joy. You get joy out of a strong faith, a great marriage, and raising responsible kids.”
Joe Patterson says the emphasis his parents always placed on giving back impacted his own choices. “We’ve learned from them by example to be generous and to try to help people who need help,” he said.
"It is our privilege to provide a legacy to Goizueta Business School based on what Emory has meant to us..."
Throughout the decades, organizations in the community have benefited from the Pattersons’ generosity. But Emory University and their family’s commitment to unity in the Christian faith, are closest to their hearts. Thanks to their efforts, Solon and Marianna Patterson were presented with the Emory Medal on September 20, 2003.
But their work continues. Just recently, in fact, they committed a significant gift to the Candler School of Theology’s Aquinas Center.
Faith and a passion for unity have defined their life.
“The world has shrunk dramatically over the last few decades,” said Marianna Patterson. “We feel the timing is right to try and bring the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches back together, and we’re very pleased to be able to support Candler’s growing interest in this cause.”
“We truly have come to believe that the reason we met and married was to one day work for the reunion of our beloved Churches,” Solon Patterson said.
In addition to charitable gift annuities in support of Goizueta, Solon and Marianna Patterson honored both the Business School and the College with a naming gift that preserved the green space between the business school and the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.
Many a student has spent time on Patterson Green…maybe meeting their future spouse.
“It is our privilege to provide a legacy to Goizueta Business School based on what Emory has meant to us and our community and what it will mean in the future,” said Solon Patterson. “Many opportunities have come along for Marianna and me as a result of our Emory years.”