Our Town with William Kelly: Three more weeks until Patterson speaks

William Kelly  |  Civic Association  |  March 1, 2023

James Patterson, the world’s bestselling author, will be the guest speaker at the Palm Beach Civic Association’s Annual Award Breakfast on March 22 at The Breakers.

Patterson is a Civic Association director and a Palm Beach resident.

He has sold more than 350 million books worldwide, including popular thrillers, children’s books, young adult novels, romances, mysteries and nonfiction books.

His series include the Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride and Middle School books.

Patterson has written more than 200 novels since 1976. Known as the “king of bestsellers,” he holds the record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers by a single author.

His nonfiction books include Walk in My Combat Boots, Filthy Rich, and James Patterson by James Patterson, his long-awaited memoir, published in 2022.

Patterson’s extremely prolific output – he publishes an average of 14 books a year – is possible because of his collaboration with a variety of co-authors, including former President Bill Clinton (The President is Missing) and Dolly Parton (Run, Rose, Run).

Patterson passionately promotes reading in young people. Launched in 2011, his Read, Kiddo, Read initiative is a web-based effort to encourage children to read by making it easy for parents, teachers and librarians to find books they will like.

Bob Wright, chairman and CEO of the Civic Association, said it’s an honor for the organization to have the most published writer in the world as guest speaker.

“He has written books for many audiences, and that makes him so different,” Wright said. “He’s a good speaker. He is a philanthropist, and we all appreciate that.”

Patterson was born in March 1947, in Newburgh, New York into a working-class family of Irish descent. His father, Charles Patterson, was an insurance broker and his mother, Isabelle, was a teacher and homemaker.

He graduated summa cum laude with both a bachelor’s degree in English from Manhattan College and a master’s degree in English from Vanderbilt University.

A former advertising executive at J. Walter Thompson, Patterson has devoted most of his time to writing since retiring from advertising in 1996 at age 49.

He is a fervent supporter of universities, teachers’ colleges, independent bookstores and school libraries. He has donated millions of dollars in grants and scholarships with the goal of encouraging people of all ages to read more books.

In 2015, he received the Literarian Award from the National Book Foundation, which cited him as a “passionate campaigner to make books and reading a national priority.”

Patterson has said he loves to tell great stories people will want to read, rather than focus on constructing great sentences.

“I’m not a craftsman,” he said. “My style is colloquial storytelling. It’s the way we tell stories to one another – it’s not writerly, it’s not overdone.”

Patterson’s wife, Sue Patterson, is chairwoman of Palm Beach’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The couple have an adult son named Jack.

The breakfast will be from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. in the Breakers’ Venetian Ballroom. Individual tickets are $200 for Civic Association members and $300 for non-members.

Daniel Ponton to receive Brooks Award

At the Annual Award Breakfast, Daniel Ponton, owner of Club Colette and the Surfside Diner, will be honored with the Civic Association’s 2023 William J. “Bill” Brooks Community Service Award.

A native of Argentina, Ponton immigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of five. He graduated from George Washington University with a degree in finance in 1982 and, within six months, reopened Club Colette.

He is involved in many community organizations locally, nationally and abroad. His focus is on health care, architecture, animals and advocacy for children.

Ponton is a Palm Beach Civic Association director.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Dan for over 30 years,” Civic Association President Mary Robosson said. “His philanthropy to our community, in giving back, is remarkable. He is so deserving of this award.”

The Brooks Award is given each year to honor a person who has significantly improved the quality of life in the community. It is named for the late Palm Beach Town Council member and longtime general manager of WPTV Channel 5.

The Annual Award Breakfast is sponsored by Florida Crystals.

A VIP dinner in honor of Patterson and Ponton will be held at a private residence on March 21 starting at 6:30 p.m. for those donate $5,000 or above for the event.

To purchase tickets, please contact the Civic Association office at 561-655-0820 or by emailing us at events@palmbeachcivic.org

To buy tickets or for more information go here.

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Sponsored by Good Samaritan Medical Center

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