The Patton family recently donated their 27-acre property and 18th-century homestead on Asbury Street to the town of Hamilton.
While the Patton family had owned a home in Hamilton since 1928, Joanne and Maj. Gen. Patton did not settle there until 1980, when he retired from the Army.
Joanne Patton quickly immersed herself in volunteer work in her new hometown.
“Name a nonprofit on the North Shore and Joanne Patton has almost certainly played an important role,” Essex Heritage wrote in last night’s program.
Karen Andreas, publisher of North of Boston Media Group, which includes the Salem News, served as master of ceremonies at last night’s award dinner, held at the Danversport Yacht Club.
Andreas, who said she was a “cub reporter” just out of college when she first met Joanne Patton, used the words “kind, gracious, smart, tough and tenacious” to describe her.
“I just can’t say enough about Joanne,” said Nancy Palmer, chairwoman of the Northeast Hospital Corporation. “What an honor and privilege to get to know this family. What terrific role models. Who knows where they may end up.”
A display of Patton family artifacts was set up at last night’s dinner, including wartime letters exchanged between Gen. Patton and his son between 1942 and 1945 and the jacket Maj. Gen. Patton was wearing when he was wounded in Vietnam in 1968, earning him a Purple Heart.
The Essex National Heritage Commission, in conjunction with the National Park Service, presents the Essex Heritage Hero Award each year. Past winners include Wayne Burton, past president of North Shore Community College; Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll; Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis and Thomas Leonard, president emeritus of the Essex National Heritage Commission.
See www.essexheritage.org/heroes for biographies of Patton family members and full details on the award.
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.