Ronald Rhodes Patchett

Also known as: Dusty Rhodes.

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Ronald Rhodes Patchett
29th April 1925 – 1st April 2013

Ronnie, Brother, Husband, Dad, Granddad, said “it will all work out in the end, it always does”

He was a firm believer in things working out. Ronnie did not die of a heart attack, cancer, or a stroke, his heart just stopped! He was a tough old thing, a fighter, he had no fear; his answer to most illnesses was ‘get to bed’.

Ronnie had a very mischievous streak, which knowing him, you have experienced at some point. That sense of humour lasted until his final day with us – who else could have died on April Fool’s Day, on the commode?

Ronnie was born 29th April 1925 at 71 Ferncliffe, Bingley. During his life time there has been many, many changes from houses lit by gas to solar energy, which was great, for Ronnie, as gadgets, and how things worked, always fascinated him. He had to take them to pieces when purchased to see how they worked!

He suffered with asthma as a young boy, which left him weak. The doctors at the time told his mother he would not see his 7th birthday. He was a cheeky boy often found cycling down Ferncliffe, hands behind his head, leaning backwards, legs spread-eagled, defying any accident that may befall him. Ronnie frightened his mother many times by making home made gas bombs and throwing them in the fire when she was not looking.

Ronnie attended Mornington Road School until the age of 14. It was here that he first met Dorreen who was to become his wife of 63 years. Ronnie was often a sickly child and frequently away from school ill. Dorreen would get cross with him because of his poor attendance because their form never seemed to get the extra 15 mins playtime which was given to classes that had 100% attendance in a week.

Ronnie left school just before war broke out and worked as a bookbinder at Harrison’s the printers in Bingley. There he stayed. As WW2 continued, Ronnie at 18 joined the RAF to avoid conscription. He served with the Second Tactical Air Force as a wireless operator, ground crew. It was here he fell in love passionately with aeroplanes and flying. His mother was furious with Ronnie and thought him too sickly to cope. He proved them all wrong. Health improved, his lust for life increased and he never looked back. It was at this time he started to court Dorreen. Ronnie did his ‘square bashing’ in Blackpool and since that time until he died had very fond memories of Blackpool town.

Ronnie was a very good dancer and had superb rhythm. He danced for hours at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom with Dorreen and her friends. Elsie Keighley was one such friend and colleague. Elsie knew Dad from boy to man. Elsie was his favourite dancing partner although he loved Dorreen unconditionally by now, Ronnie said of Elsie ‘she just knew how to move around the dance floor’.

He loved the sound of the big bands. Glen Miller, Joe Loss and many more.

He showed pride in his appearance particularly his ‘Shiny Shoes’.

Dad was part of the D Day landings in June 1944, served with the RAF in occupied Belgium and finally Germany where he first took up photography.

After being demobbed in 1946 and having exchanged 1,095 letters with Dorreen, they then married on the 22nd June 1946.

Ronnie went back to Harrison’s as a bookbinder but very quickly had a lucky break as a press photographer at Bingley Guardian Offices.

He studied photography at Citying Guilds for 3 years and became an expert at those newspaper photographs we all remember well. He was a perfectionist. Soon afterwards he moved to the Keighley News and then the T&A from where he retired after 43 years in the business at 64. Ronnie has had the opportunity of photographing and getting to know many celebrities including Billie Whitelaw, Edmond Hockridge, Richard Geer when filming the Yanks in Keighley, Richard Stillgo, John Duteen and Emma Thompson but to name a few.

Ronnie became a father to Susan Ann the first of his 2 daughters at the age of 25 in 1951 and then 4 years later to his second daughter June Elizabeth in 1956.

Ronnie built his own bungalow in the early 60s. He was fiercely interested in DIY because only he could do it properly! It had to be done perfectly. Ronnie was beginning to have DIY withdrawal symptoms after he retired so he set to and built his own conservatory.

Ronnie taught photography at Keighley Technical College for 20 years and when he was in his mid 40’s became an officer with the Keighley Air Training Corps. Ronnie loved the time with the ATC. Taking Keighley squadron to camp in Wiltshire where he managed to combine air – to – air shots of Chipmunk aircraft with cadet training and having ‘fun’ at the same time.

He had achieved everything he had ever wanted to by this time. His perfect wife that he loved and cared for so deeply, a home he and Dorreen had built and was proud of, and 2 daughters he had always wanted.

Dad had a very astute insight to things, and as said before was determined to achieve. During the war whilst in Germany he saw a poster giving hope for the future, it was of a modern new house, wife and 2 little girls walking up the drive to it and thought ‘that’s for me’.

Ronnie was brother to Margaret, Joan and Marjorie, uncle to Eric, Julie, Stephen, Judith, Anthony, and Marcus.

From the Steel family (Dorreen’s side) Wendy, Michael & Daphne.

As a husband
Ronnie became engaged to Dorreen whilst he was in the RAF. They married just after the war in 1946. He loved Dorreen unconditionally. He was generous and kind. He gave her everything he could. Mum did tell me there was only Ronnie for her. If Ronnie started to make any speeches, Dorreen could be heard to say immediately ‘sit down Ronnie, sit down’. He always adored mum’s legs and found her just wonderful in everything she did. Dad missed mum so much when she died.

He was involved in many Skirmishes during the war. The one that stands out especially is the time he and 2 other RAF men took some R&R one evening whilst in Belgium in 1944 at the nearby village. They had been told to be careful and watch out for snipers. On the way back to barracks his friend was shot dead to his left and his friend to right of him got hit and died later.

This is a boy that was not going to see his 7th birthday.

I will miss my father in the flesh always but I know he is with me more now than I could ever have imagined. I think I had better watch out in the future and continue to behave myself or else, but I shall always, always hear him say, ‘aay Susan Love’

My sister June fondly remembers the time when dad pushed us both around the harbour at Newquay in a large bright orange dinghy. June was 3 and I was 7. My sister got rather concerned as she thought she saw in the distance a small shark entering the harbour. She screamed at dad to get into the dinghy telling him frighteningly and worried he was going to get his legs bitten off. All June remembers next is that we were all eating ice creams on the beach and the shark business had been forgotten.

As a Grandfather
As children, we always remember the long drive to Bingley from Leicestershire. The two cooling towers opposite Meadow Hall were our half way mark and then leaving the motorway we knew we were nearly there. Once we arrived though, we always had fun. ‘Granddad’ would always want to play with us. There are lots of things we remember doing but Granddad always managed to make them special. We wrote stories together (Rusty Jip was our favourite character). But we didn’t just write a story, Granddad would draw pictures to go with the story and we would type it up on Grandma’s typewriter and then Granddad would turn our stories into little books for us to take home. He helped us with school projects. We found one project recently, whilst moving house, Granddad.

Added by: June Elizabeth Patchett on 20th September 2013.


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Picture of Ronald Rhodes Patchett.
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Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
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0800 169 2942
Registered Charity No. 1081009