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Brian’s Blog: Goodbye, J.P. Patches

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I didn’t get to watch J.P. Patches growing up, but I did get a chance to to learn from him for a week in 1976.

Here in the Yakima Valley, baby boomer kids grew up with Uncle Jimmy, Captain Bob, and Montana Tom hosting their kiddie type TV shows. Thousands of kids in the Seattle – Tacoma area grew up with Stan Boreson, Captain Puget, and of course, J.P. Patches. J.P.’s alter ego, Chris Wedes, died after a long battle with cancer Sunday morning at the age of 84.

Here’s what Jack Broom wrote about him in Sunday’s Seattle Times:

Most people didn’t even know his real name, but he was a bona fide piece of Seattle history, one that predated the Space Needle, the Mariners, the Seahawks and Microsoft.

Chris Wedes, better known as TV clown J.P. Patches, died Sunday morning after a long battle with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. He was 84.

On television from 1958 to 1981, and in countless personal appearances since, Mr. Wedes delighted generations of Puget Sound-area children and adults with his zany antics and a style that was irreverent yet gentle.

In his tattered hat, red nose and colorful patchwork coat, the character Mr. Wedes created, Julius Pierpont Patches, could cause all sorts of mayhem, tumbling off his tricycle, blasting himself into space and playing pranks on his TV guests.

But he also reminded his tiny viewers, known as “Patches Pals,” to follow the rules, which included minding Mommy and Daddy, saying your prayers and sharing your toys. He opened his last major public appearance, in September 2011, by leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

You can read the complete story here.

I met Chris Wedes when he taught a TV class at the broadcast school I attended in Seattle. I had some previous TV experience behind the cameras and even doing some directing at KYVE- TV in Yakima when I attended Yakima Valley Community College.  That kind of gave me some common ground with him, I guess. He was warm, funny, gracious, and genuinely interested in us as budding broadcasters. He hosted us on a tour of KIRO-TV and introduced us to the news anchor team at that time.

He was very proud of his Greek heritage, and performed a monologue for my class one day about how great it was to be a Greek-American, entirely in a Greek accent. It was fantastic!

So, while I didn’t grow up a Patches Pal, that week in 1976 has made me a Chris Wedes fan for 35 years.

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