Farewell to Chris Wedes – aka J.P. Patches – 1928-2012

July 22, 2012 at 6:33 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 45 Comments

jppatches.jpg

(WSB photo from 2007 West Seattle Grand Parade)
WSB’er Kathleen just sent e-mail to make sure we had seen the sad news that Chris Wedes, best known as J.P. Patches, has died, at the age of 84 – just one day after this year’s West Seattle Grand Parade, a parade in which he had appeared more than a few times, with his final appearance in 2010. Here’s a short story on The Seattle Times (WSB partner).

Checking WSB archives: In February 2008, West Seattle’s then-State Senator, now County Councilmember, Joe McDermott introduced a resolution honoring Mr. Wedes on the 50th anniversary of his TV show.

wedesmcdermottemmett.jpg

That picture was shared from Olympia by then-Sen. McDermott, and featured him with Mr. Wedes – who was not in his J.P. makeup – and with McDermott’s cousin Emmett Blake (“Patches Pals and West Seattleites both,” the then-senator noted at the time).

Three months later, in full J.P. Patches regalia, Mr. Wedes appeared at the Admiral Theaterhere’s our coverage (with video). By then, he was already fighting the cancer that has now taken his life.

So far as we can find in our five-plus-years of archives, his final appearances in West Seattle were in 2010. He was at the May 2010 Westwood Village Street Fair. We covered his appearance, but the best photo came later, from Karen, whose friend Kristi got him to pose with her pugs:

He also rode in the 2010 West Seattle Grand Parade:

(July 2010 photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)

ADDED 7:15 PM: The Times has now published a full obituary – read it here.

One more note from here: Back in May, Mr. Wedes’s wife Joan Wedes was an honored guest at the dedication of the new South Transfer Station in South Park. Since JP Patches was also known affectionately as “Mayor of the City Dump,” the city promised a tribute to him at the new building that is about as close as you get to a “dump” these days. (The dedication got little to no coverage in local media [us included] because it was overshadowed by breaking news – shortly after the ceremony ended, Ian Stawicki‘s deadly rampage began.) She’s at right in this photo we took during the dedication:

Though you can’t tell since our photo is a wide shot, Councilmember Jean Godden, sitting next to Mrs. Wedes, was wearing a J.P. Patches button.

8:14 PM: Another West Seattle-raised politician who was a Patches pal, King County Executive Dow Constantine, remembers J.P.:

Several generations of Seattle kids owe a bit of their personality and sense of humor to J.P. Patches. Chris Wedes, sidekick Bob Newman, and director Joe Towey created a remarkable world of improvised comedy that enthralled children and, with an occasional wink or double-entendre, let parents in on the backstage hilarity.

I knew this day would come, but cannot believe that it has. Good night, sweet clown.

ADDED 8:19 PM: Cynthia Reid, who knew Mr. Wedes for many years, also was responsible for bringing him to the West Seattle parade – 1996 was the very first time. She told us, “Even though Chris has been so ill, I just wasn’t prepared for the news today.”

We contacted her after reading her Facebook comment about his death, in which she explained that she was just 5 when Chris Wedes came into her family’s life, visiting her cousin at Children’s Hospital while he was recovering from open-heart surgery. “They told us Craiger wasn’t going to make it after his open-heart surgery, he’d just given up. J.P. came and spent the whole day with him, and even brought his favorite treat, Fudgesicles! Craig found the strength that day to pull thru and we’ve felt indebted to Chris ever since. … Chris was told countless times how much he helped kids who were going thru a hard time with their families. Divorce, abuse, etc, he knew he was the only constant in their lives. And every year during the parade these folks would approach him and thank him. Every story meant so much to him. He KNEW how important it was to the kids, all the kids, and especially the ones who were hurting. Please know how much he cared about each and every kid out there.”

ADDED: Patches Pal Jeff Jones shared memories too, and a photo:

A huge shoutout to my great Patches Pal friend Eric Wiseman for having JP as his special guest for BBQ a few years ago.

I have a Boris S. Wart second-meanest man in the world t-shirt my Mom gave me back in the day.

Coaching girls’ hoops at the rec center, the kids would always ask me who the meanest man was, I said me!

The … picture is me asking JP who the meanest man is, he said, Jonesy, it’s the Principal.

45 Comments

  1. J.P. Thank you for some of my fondest early morning memories as a child. You were truly one of the good ones. You will be missed. Fair winds and following seas.

    Comment by Long camper — 6:45 pm July 22, 2012 #

  2. Such great memories of JP Patches. An everyday morning event before school when growing up. I was able to meet him and Gertrude on set when I was about 7 years old and was in awe. Thank you JP for the good memories…

    Comment by TammiWS — 6:56 pm July 22, 2012 #

  3. Puget Sound ‘kids’ of all ages just lost one of their best longtime friends; Chris Wedes ~ J.P. Patches. An amazing guy/entertainer/friend. THANKYOU to Mr. Wedes and to your family for sharing him for all these decades. We are not ready to turn off the ICU 2 T.V. set yet. Goodbye Mayor Of City Dump.

    Comment by KD — 6:58 pm July 22, 2012 #

  4. Sad day in Seattle. Watched his show everyday before and after school. I would guess he is the most loved person in Seattle’s history… RIP JP Patches

    Comment by Brad Fletcher — 7:00 pm July 22, 2012 #

  5. In Hawaii, we had Checkers and Pogo when I was a kid. Kind of similar to J.P. R.I.P.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=9hKLTbHqMDY

    Comment by Jiggers — 7:08 pm July 22, 2012 #

  6. He was the best and will be missed!

    Comment by NemoBeanBean — 7:34 pm July 22, 2012 #

  7. Making people happy for a living – what a life!! Thank you JP Patches :)

    Comment by Erin — 7:53 pm July 22, 2012 #

  8. To All the Patches Pals that grew up with J.P…

    We have lost a true Seattle icon!

    The day’s of my brother and me sitting in front of a thirteen inch black and white Zenith T.V. watching him in the morning and afternoons in the 1960′s.

    I remember J.P., as the Grand Marshall of The Greenwood Seafair Parade, several year’s ago and he was nice enough to take the time and autograph several collectibles- I had been saving ALL those years.

    My favorite time of the year for J.P. on T.V. was at Christmas time, when J.P. would go to the North Pole to visit Santa and report on what the Patches Pals wanted for Christmas.

    Alas..! It’s a sad day, to say J.P. is gone!

    Seattle natives from the sixties have ALL those memories and the sculpture of J.P. and Gertrude in Fremont to remember him by.

    RIP J.P… The Mayor of the City Dump!

    I’ll miss you! A lifelong Patches Pal!

    Comment by Earl the Squirrel — 7:58 pm July 22, 2012 #

  9. My brownie troop visited his show circa 1961 or so. He made us all feel very special, wonderful childhood memories. Wonderful man.

    Comment by ensignmarvin — 8:00 pm July 22, 2012 #

  10. Sad indeed. A Patches Pal since the show began. J P started my day before school and was always there when I got home.

    Comment by gatewood — 8:10 pm July 22, 2012 #

  11. Great memories for this Patches Pal .. JP, Ketchikan,and Gorst, the friendly Furpl. Thank You.

    Comment by mmp — 8:12 pm July 22, 2012 #

  12. We will all miss you at the dump.

    Comment by patt — 8:13 pm July 22, 2012 #

  13. R.I.P. J.P. Patches. You will be missed.

    Comment by Paula T — 8:14 pm July 22, 2012 #

  14. Simply my favorite, he is the reason I have such a clownish personality. May God bless his survivors.

    Comment by Russ Vincent — 8:21 pm July 22, 2012 #

  15. Ironically, I was just over perusing JP’s site, for the first time in ages.

    .

    This is incredibly sad, indeed.

    .

    My brother and I were a couple of those “latchkey” kids, that J.P. had such an impact on.

    .

    Chris Wedes was an incredible man, and was so humbled by the love and respect that Puget Sound area kids, that grew up watching his show, had for him.

    .

    Condolences to Chris’ family and friends.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 8:25 pm July 22, 2012 #

  16. ICU2TV. Always in my heart and imagination. The only clown in town.

    Mr.Wedes, I loved you!

    Comment by gina — 9:39 pm July 22, 2012 #

  17. Oh my, I hate to hear it.

    I am a native Seattleite, 6 years old when he was first on the air 1958. J.P. has been a wonderful icon in Seattle and in my life. I have been a lifetime fan. I used to watch morning and afternoon. The passing of time can be harsh.

    Thank goodness we have a memorial in Fremont. But, so sorry we have so few videos of the show. Way back when, I even got a mention through the ICU2TV.

    Comment by Richard — 9:47 pm July 22, 2012 #

  18. I remember seeing J.P. and Gertrude at the A&P in Lake City when I was 5 yrs old (1963). I was so shocked to see them in color! and so big! J.P. gave all of us Jiffy Pop popcorn to take home, and Gertrude scared the heck out of me (at the time I didn’t know what it was, but “she” just didn’t seem right to me…).

    To all you Patches Pals, don’t forget to look in the dryer! :)

    Rest in peace J.P., thanks for getting me off to school every day…you’re the only clown I ever loved.

    Comment by seattletimebandit — 9:49 pm July 22, 2012 #

  19. Is it just me, or did all the lights just get a bit dimmer? As a Seattleite, JP has just ALWAYS been there. I even received an email from him recently.

    I think many of us who “knew” JP are feeling this loss keenly. We were lucky as hell to have him, weren’t we?

    Comment by The Velvet Bulldog — 9:51 pm July 22, 2012 #

  20. So sad…I remember how JP and Gertrude would get so silly and have such a good time. And the wayback machine…goodbye, JP.

    Comment by Denise — 10:02 pm July 22, 2012 #

  21. I heard a rumor that the new dump was gonna be named after Pierpont. I hope to pickup some Ms Smith Pies next time i’m there. Patches Pal Jeff Jones

    Comment by Jeff Jones — 10:04 pm July 22, 2012 #

  22. So thankful for the memories he left us with. We knew this day would come. Still a shock when it did. RIP to the only clown I ever liked, and a man I loved for how he helped one little boy in Bremerton face his day during some awful childhood trauma and, years later, delighted that boy with a personal phone call on his 40th birthday!

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 10:19 pm July 22, 2012 #

  23. I remember when JP Patches came out on stage to introduce Alice in Chains back in the early days. I remember thinking that was so damn awesome! Such a cool guy

    Comment by MetalJesusRocks — 10:27 pm July 22, 2012 #

  24. I have fond memories of JP Patches and Gertrude having met them several times. Even won a game in a contest on TV when I was 11. As many have stated we watched him in the morning before school and ran home after school to see each him and watch cartoons. I am glad that he was able to stay active and share his life with so many people.

    Comment by Dale White — 3:52 am July 23, 2012 #

  25. I have fond memories of JP Patches and Gertrude having met them several times. Even won a game in a contest on TV when I was 11. As many have stated we watched him in the morning before school and ran home after school to see each him and watch cartoons. I am glad that he was able to stay active and share his life with so many people.

    Comment by Dale White — 3:52 am July 23, 2012 #

  26. Thank you JP Patches for shaping my childhood years and for the many hours of entertainment (Speed Racer and the Little Rascles) before school. Each morning, I always knew when it was time to start walking to school once your show was over – I was never late because of you!
    I will Miss you. Prayers go out to your family.
    What a great contributor to life you are. ;-)
    You are a man with many, many children.

    Comment by Shelly Brewer — 5:11 am July 23, 2012 #

  27. You started my morning everyday before school,You will truly be missed ,RIP JP!

    Comment by Wallace — 6:23 am July 23, 2012 #

  28. In the early 80′s I worked at KIRO on the radio side. I remember heading up to the cafeteria one morning. Chris was there, having a snack or something. It felt like being in the presence of royalty. Well, he was the Mayor of the City Dump, after all.

    Comment by Elizabeth Burke — 7:33 am July 23, 2012 #

  29. Sad:(
    Long time patches pal here. He was the only clown that didn’t scare the bejeezus out of me. Still can hear Esmerelda laughing:)

    Comment by B-squared — 7:50 am July 23, 2012 #

  30. ‎:-( J.P. Patches was my favorite show to watch every morning before school when I was seven to eight years old. I always made sure to watch ICU2TV on my birthday and waited for my name to be called, sadly it never was but I loved the show anyway. Thank you J.P. for starting my days with a smile. You were the best clown ever and you will truly be missed!

    Comment by sun*e — 9:18 am July 23, 2012 #

  31. Best Mayor the city dump ever had! JP will be missed by many, including this Patches Pal… So glad that statue in Fremont was erected in his honor before he passed on…

    Comment by ttt — 9:36 am July 23, 2012 #

  32. I hope the new dump is named after Pierpont! That would be awesome!

    Comment by Anonymous — 9:48 am July 23, 2012 #

  33. Thanks for the memories JP.

    Comment by dee — 11:00 am July 23, 2012 #

  34. My sis and I were on JP’s show once when a group of us kids were invited on the program (KIRO) . If memory serves me correctly from what my mom told me, it was supposed to be children of active military personnel around the time the Vietnam war was going on. Had a great time and JP was hilarious. Memories of that are still vivid even 40+ years after. RIP JP.

    Comment by Jun-jun — 12:19 pm July 23, 2012 #

  35. Patches Pals forever!

    Comment by Tony — 2:26 pm July 23, 2012 #

  36. I was born the same year he started the show. It was great to get up and start your day getting ready for school and watching JP! Off to school we went and could hardly wait to get home and watch JP again. Grandfather clock was one of my favorite. Also who could forget Ezmorelda the rag doll. I always wished that my name would get called out on my birthday, so to those of you that did how exciting. RIP in peace my friend, thanks for all the memories. You made all of our childhoods so wonderful. Wherever you are, you will bring smiles to those that come into your life! Steve

    Comment by Woodsman — 3:45 pm July 23, 2012 #

  37. JP was a source of sanity for me as my family wasn’t. Everyday before shool I could laugh and feel good. I met him on set once, my class went to the show and again many years later at a different forum. I don’t know why that somewhere inside we think good people like him will never die and then when they do so does part of your heart. I will miss you.

    Comment by michael — 4:17 pm July 23, 2012 #

  38. I grew up with JP and remember him and Gertrude at Overlake Golf & Country Club for the annual Christmas gathering. Last time I saw him was at the Admiral Theater I think in 2008 with another Patches Pal – Chris Rowe. Both have passed on but will always be remembered…

    Comment by Mark Johnson — 8:32 pm July 23, 2012 #

  39. Jp Patches ny childhood hero growing up in Seattle well it was the place to be.. I lived it Seattle had the king of clowns.. I just loved Jp patches forever his face has been etched in my childhood memories I lived…!!!

    Comment by Lynda Bolkan — 11:03 pm July 23, 2012 #

  40. After breakfast, we 3 kids would ask/beg Mom to let us watch a few minutes of the show. Turn on the black and white tv…wait for it to warm up…JP, Gertrude, The Second Meanest Man in the World- Boris. S. Wort, Esmerelda and her laugh…

    Comment by M. — 12:14 am July 24, 2012 #

  41. I just remembered that I have a J.P. Patches bobble head doll and now I consider it a collectors item. Thanks for the great memories J.P.!

    Comment by sun*e — 9:32 am July 24, 2012 #

  42. Northwest native and Patches Pal here too. I was ready for his passing but it still makes me a little misty thinking about all those days, eating my oatmeal and laughing at that wonderful, silly program. Got even better as I got old enough to get some of the double entendres and realize why the crew was always cracking up! I only stopped watching because earlier school starting times meant I had to get up too early.

    So. The new Transfer Station is about to open. We just lost the Mayor of the City Dump. I know the city doesn’t want to call it a dump, but c’mon! Can it be the “Julius P. Patches Memorial Transfer Station”? Please, City of Seattle?

    Let’s make it happen, Patches Pals!

    Thanks, J.P.!

    Zabba-zabba-zabba-zoo!

    ~John

    Comment by Johnston — 6:07 pm July 24, 2012 #

  43. The city should have a tribute for him during this Saturday’s torchlight parade!

    Comment by Woodsman — 6:56 pm July 24, 2012 #

  44. Thank you J.P. Patches for making the world a happier place. I loved your TV show, and couldn’t wait for your personal appearances at the College Club Christmas parties! Even more fun was introducing my daughter to you at the Bellevue Strawberry Festival.

    THANK YOU MRS. WEDES for sharing your husband with the world!

    Linda, a Patches Pal for 50+ years

    Comment by Linda Cunningham — 1:09 pm July 25, 2012 #

  45. I have possibly a one only in existence item. I have a 1960ish original JP Patches jacket. I am now 57 years old and my mother got me this jacket when I was about 4-5 years old. May have been a KIRO promotional short run item. It has an original embroidered “Patches Pal” patch on the front ( it is absolutely the same he wore for many years on his hat), with a sewn JP on the back. Both JP and Gertrude have signed it. Both were amazed when they saw it about 15 years ago.

    Comment by Dan Bradley — 11:39 pm July 30, 2012 #

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