Cerner CEO Neal Patterson remembered as a driving force in Kansas City's success

LEAWOOD, Kan. - Co-founder and CEO of Cerner Corp. Neal Patterson was laid to rest Thursday.  Hundreds gathered at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection for a public service officiated by the Rev. Adam Hamilton and former U.S. Senator John Danforth.  

The service was poignant and inspirational, focusing on Patterson's life, vision and impact on Kansas City. 

Patterson died at the age of 67 on Sunday after complications from recurring cancer. 

Rather than dwelling on the loss, loved ones remembered Patterson for what he gave, encouraging the community to continue his work. 

"His enthusiasm was contagious. He was largely responsible for the economic growth of Kansas City. He improved the quality of healthcare, and he created the vision for its future," Danforth said.

He served on the Cerner board for years and was Patterson's friend. 

Danforth spoke about Patterson's drive to change healthcare, and the world, by transforming the medical software industry. 

"From a picnic table in Loose Park, he created Cerner.  There are now 25,000 Cerner associates, and many more over the years, and Neal changed the life of all of them.  Not just offering good livelihoods, but inspiring them to make the most of their lives," Danforth said. 

Those who knew Patterson will say he made the most of his life, still working when his cancer came back. 

"What a gift the life of Neal Patterson gave to humankind and to so many of you," lifelong friend John Williams told the congregation. 

Williams detailed Patterson's humble beginnings as a farm boy in rural Anthony, Kansas near the Oklahoma border. Lessons he learned from his father eventually led him to become a businessman, expanding healthcare technology. 

"On the farm and in life, you make one more round after sunset," Williams said. "The truly diligent make one last tract around the field after sunset. This is the work ethic of going the second mile and of doing more than is required, which is what Neal applied throughout his life." 

Happy memories gathered from the family photo album played across the church's big screen, memorializing Patterson as a loving, devoted husband, father, and grandfather. 

Patterson supported The American Royal Association, various foundations such as the First Hand Foundation, and helped rebrand Kansas City's struggling soccer franchise into what is now Sporting KC. 

"Let's remember Neal Patterson, the farm boy on a mission, the man with many talents who used them all and risked them all to fix healthcare.  Let's make that a model of our own lives," Danforth said. 

Rev. Hamilton revealed Patterson's worries about how much work he had left. Hamilton told the congregation it's "our job" now. 

On his last day, Patterson watched the sunset with his family, his wife Jeanne by his side. 

"It doesn't get any better than that," Hamilton said. 

A private burial followed the service. 

Memorial donations may be made to the American Royal Association, First Hand Foundation, Oklahoma State University or the Gamma Chi chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.  The Patterson Family Foundation will continue. 

Read Cerner’s blog post about its co-founder here.

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