Remembering Nobuko Patton

Professor Nobuko Patton speaking into a microphone

Professor Nobuko Patton

The Asian Studies Department is sad to report that former professor Nobuko Toda Patton, who taught Japanese at Berea College from 2009 to 2012, passed away on August 4, 2018 after a long illness.  She is survived by her husband, Professor Nathan Patton, her successor as Japanese language instructor at Berea.

Throughout her life, Patton-先生 went to extraordinary lengths to promote Japanese studies and instill a love of language, learning, and travel in students.  Her first profession was that of a distinguished and nationally-known radio and television presenter in her native Japan, but she later established a very successful second career as a teacher of Japanese language and culture.  Her joyful dedication and zest for life inspired countless Japanese language learners at Berea as well as at the University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, and Jessie Clark Middle School and Scott County High School in Georgetown, Kentucky, where she and her husband made their home.  With her husband, she co-authored the acclaimed textbook, Beginning Japanese: Your Pathway to Dynamic Language Acquisition (Tuttle, 2010).

Her impact on Japanese studies in Kentucky and elsewhere was enormous, but perhaps nowhere more so than at Berea, where she played a crucial role in keeping the Japanese language program alive at a difficult and critical moment in the history of Berea’s Asian Studies Department.  At one point, she even offered to teach without receiving a salary if that would guarantee continuity of opportunity for Berea students to learn Japanese.  Fortunately, other means of preserving the program were found – again, largely as a result of her efforts.  Her loss is tragic and heartbreaking for all whose lives she touched, but her legacy is rich and enduring.

In honor of Nobuko Patton’s many contributions to the study of Japanese language at Berea, a memorial fund has been established.  Contributions to this fund will be used to continue and deepen her commitment to promoting Japanese studies at Berea.

There are two ways to contribute to the Fund.  Memorial donations may be sent by check to:

The Nobuko Patton Memorial Scholarship Fund
Berea College
CPO 2216
101 Chestnut Street
Berea, KY 40404

Donations also may be made online via the Berea College giving portal.  (Be sure to check “Other” under “What would you like your gift to support?” and enter “Nobuko Patton Memorial Scholarship Fund” in the space provided before completing the donation process.)

おくやみ もうしあげます。The faculty, students, and alumni of the Asian Studies Department offer their sincere condolences.