After years of brightening up the lives of others, Tom Pattison faces life in the dark – News-Herald


Tom Pattison is a man who fights, but he’s also a man who doesn’t give up.

The 71-year-old Willoughby Hills resident and former entertainment promoter has struggled with a long list of serious health issues, including a severe loss of sight.

Pattison is completely blind in his left eye and describes the limited vision in his right eye as “like looking through a peephole.” Pattison depends on the help of others when it comes to driving to doctor’s appointments, shopping and wherever else he needs to go.

Other attempts include maneuvering through his non-handicap-accessible home.

“It was a nightmare,” he said.

So far, five surgeries on his left eye have failed and doctors have already told him that even the minimal vision in his right eye could eventually be lost.

Although it’s not certain how the blindness happened, some doctors say it may have been caused by lack of oxygen when his atrial fibrillation heart stopped for a few minutes about a year and a half ago.

Luckily, paramedics were able to revive him and he was taken to UH Lake West Medical Center.

“They put in a pacemaker and that has saved me so far. It’s heartbreaking,” he said.

Add to that a recent cancer diagnosis that led to surgery to remove a melanoma, which opened up his face and left him with a scar stretching from the tip of his eyebrow to his jawline.

“It’s a frustrating thing … when I thought nothing else could hit me. I keep talking to Jesus and I ask him, “You must be really mad at me… I’ve been trying to help people all my life… what have I done?”

Over the years, Pattison has enjoyed singing for residents of local nursing homes and other facilities. And despite many challenges, it is a risk that he does not want to give up.

He also wants to give motivational talks to high school and college students in the hope that sharing his successful experiences as a promoter and entrepreneur might be helpful to them.

“There is nothing you cannot do in life. There is always a way. I’m living proof,” he said.

After graduating from Mentor High School in 1969, Pattison attended Lakeland Community College and received his bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from Cornell University in New York.

Upon returning to Lake County, he started a production company that sponsored various events including the World’s Fair of Food at the Shoregate Shopping Center in Willowick and Nightmare in Painesville at the Lake County Fairgrounds.

One of his favorite promotional activities was to help develop Master of the Grida video based on the comic book character Conan the Barbarian showing Cleveland Browns players.

“When I was doing Masters of Gridiron, the NFL went nuts,” he recalled. “They picked it up and followed suit with other teams. I love entertaining. That was a matter of course for me.”

Currently Pattison is discouraged as he cannot find help with rehabilitation and therapy. He notes that while doctors and medical facilities have been helpful, in some cases there is a “disconnection” and he has yet to find a source to teach him how to navigate life with low vision.

“I tried to get help… I’m fighting in the dark…” he said. “It’s so frustrating not being able to see anything. I do not want to give up. I just want to learn.”

When asked what message he would like to share with others about his plight, Pattison said, “If anyone out there knows how to help, that would be great. And if someone wants me to sing in nursing homes, I’m happy to do that.”

For those who wish to contact Pattison for possible assistance, email [email protected]


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