OUTSIDE SEATTLE, WA -- Updated at 7:40 p.m. Fans have set up a memorial page for J.P. Patches on Facebook.
J.P. Patches, Puget Sound’s favorite clown for more than half a century, died today Sunday, July 22, 2012 at the age of 84.
The Northwest icon and longtime Edmonds resident, whose real name is Chris Wedes, had fought a long battle with cancer.
Wedes, the man behind the patchwork jacket and red nose whose young fans were known as "Patches Pals," made his final appearance at The Taste of Edmonds last year.
Wedes starred on The J.P. Patches Show for 23 years, from 1958 through 1981. The Emmy Award-winning show at one time had a viewership of more than 100,000.
"He was a great man, a fine mayor and citizen who loved Edmonds," said former Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper. J.P. Patches was "mayor" of a fictional dump on his TV show.
Cooper said that he and Wedes had a similar cancer. Cooper had multiple myeloma, while Wedes had acute myeloma.
"I had several chances to meet him over my years in elected office," Cooper said. "He was a funny yet caring man as Chris Wedes. As J.P., he gave laughter to all off us regardless of age. I have been a Patches Pal since my childhood."
Cooper was on hand when Wedes helped dedicate Hickman Park in Edmonds.
"It was an honor for me to be a part of the event when we dedicated J.P. Patches playground at Hickman Park in Edmonds," Cooper said, who was on the Snohomish County Council at the time. The park was dedicated in August 2009 and has a small plaque to honor Patches on the playground.
"The county and city funded this park and it was so fitting because as J.P. mentioned that day, Dr. Hickman developed the catheter that helped save his life, and mine too. Patches Pals everywhere should mourn J.P.'s passing by celebrating his life."
According to J.P. Patches’ Web site, “J.P. Patches, as a Seattle icon, predates grunge music, the space needle, bitter‐overpriced coffee, huge software companies and the Kingdome. The only Seattle icons older than J.P. are slugs and geoducks.”
Fans—called “Patches Pals”—include Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott.
A statue of J.P. Patches and sidekick Gertrude was erected in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood in 2008.
Please share your memories of J.P. Patches.