Living the brand: TDC names hospitality award winner, artist of the year

Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 12:24 PM.

"I may be the luckiest man in the world," said Patterson.

He recalled seeing a small ad in the newspaper right after he sold a boat business in Destin that said South Walton was looking for a director of tourism. Patterson called his old friend Butler and asked him if this was anything he (Patterson) might be interested in. Butler encouraged him to apply.

Patterson told him he didn't know anything about promoting tourism, but Butler told him, "We will teach you."

At this point, Patterson had to pause as he fought back tears.

"I told my wife, I think I'm gonna do this," he said. "After all, when you're at the bottom, where else can you go but up? As a young man I couldn't wait to get out of this place of rattlesnakes and cow dung, and then I spent 20 years trying to get back."

Patterson then flashed forward to recent years when the Okaloosa County TDC was rocked by a fraud scandal involving its previous director.

He said such a thing could not have happened in Walton County .

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