James Patterson’s Badger Spirit Inspires Nursing Gift

Susan and James Patterson

Susan and James Patterson

The family surname is Patterson. The husband, James Patterson, is an internationally acclaimed author, but it is the wife, Susan Solie Patterson, who introduced him to a new culture.

James Patterson is, by any logical measure, an Easterner. Born there. Educated there. Lives there. Susan Patterson (’79 BS EDU, ’82 MFA EDU), daughter of O.B. (’50 BS EDU, ’51 MS EDU) and Lorraine (’43 ZC NUR, ’46 BS NUR) Solie, came from another world: Middle America. In this case, rabid Badger territory.

Surrounded, Patterson learned to appreciate University of Wisconsin-Madison academics, the spirit that travels with students, parents and alumni, the sports. He follows Badger football and basketball closely even through tough seasons.

“I have become a massive Badger fan in all ways,” he said.

This spring, the Pattersons made a deeper commitment. Their Lorraine and O.B. Solie Nursing Scholars Fund will provide $10,000 a year to support students in the Early Entry PhD Option in Nursing.

Nurses usually earn their bachelor’s degrees, work, earn their master’s degrees, work some more, then earn their PhDs later in life. Early entry allows nurses to earn their PhDs and begin making research contributions sooner, Gale Barber, School of Nursing assistant dean for academic programs, said. “These students will most likely be faculty in research intensive universities such as the UW-Madison.”

Lorraine Solie and Uba Backonja

Lorraine Solie and Uba Backonja

“Nurses don’t get the respect they deserve,” Susan Patterson said. She knows. She grew up with a mother who was head nurse at Wisconsin General Hospital, the forerunner to UW Hospital, and taught in the School of Nursing. Lorraine Solie now lives in Rockford, Illinois. (O.B. Solie, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art and design from the University, died in 2006.)

James Patterson learned early respect for nurses from a childhood babysitter who became a dedicated emergency room nurse. “Nursing is not on people’s radar the way it should be,” he said. “A lot of men and women would find it very, very rewarding.”

Alex Cross, “Along Came a Spider,” “Kiss the Girls,” Women’s Murder Club,” “Maximum Ride” are all Patterson creations. His Read Kiddo Read Web site encourages reading. His Page Turner Awards honored schools, libraries and bookstores for spreading the joy of reading. Manhattan College, his alma mater, benefits from a Patterson scholarship program.

The author has sold more than 150 million books worldwide, written a record 39 New York Times Best Sellers and believes in philanthropy. “You help out as much as you can,” he said. “It’s part of the makeup of my family and the Solie family as well.”