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Edgar Patterson; Driver for Earl Warren

March 01, 2001

Edgar Patterson, 89, former driver to Earl Warren who helped shape the justice's views on race relations. Patterson befriended Warren when the politician was California attorney general. After Warren was elected the state's governor, he tapped Patterson, a state police officer, to be his driver. Historians have attributed Warren's early interest in segregation to his talks with Patterson, who told him about Sacramento stores and restaurants that refused to serve blacks. Patterson, who also drove for Gov. Goodwin J. Knight, maintained his ties with Warren after President Dwight D. Eisenhower named Warren chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1953. It was Warren who wrote the landmark decision in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., which prohibited school segregation. Patterson went on to receive a bachelor's degree from Sacramento State College and become a teacher there and a state parole agent. He worked for the California Department of Corrections until 1976 and taught until 1994. Announced on Tuesday in Sacramento of pneumonia.

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