With John Patterson’s death, all key players in ‘Sin City Story’ now gone

Local News

PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) — Over the weekend, Phenix City lost one of the central players in its history of corruption and crime.

Former Alabama Governor John Patterson died Friday at his Tallapoosa County home. He was 99.

Patterson was thrust into Alabama politics when his father, Democratic attorney General nominee Albert Patterson, was assassinated. Albert Patterson was elected attorney general on a platform of cleaning up the crime syndicate that ran Phenix City’s gambling and prostitution during the 1940s and 1950s. Phenix City was known as “Sin City.”

John Patterson was then elected attorney general in 1955 and in 1958 became the only man from Russell County to ever be elected governor. He’s the only person to beat George Wallace in a statewide race.

He’s a central figure in Phenix City and Alabama history.

“After his dad got killed, he stepped in and ran for attorney general, which his dad had been elected to. But, then of course, had been shot and killed. And John Patterson won the attorney general’s race,” former Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter said. “Well, he did a good job as attorney general. And then when he ran for governor, dog-gone, he won. And it was wonderful. And one of the things that most people don’t realize is he beat George Wallce for governor.”

With his death, all of the central figures – the good guys and the bad guys – in the Phenix City story are gone.

Nearly 80, Coulter was still a kid when end came for the crime syndicate came.

“You know I am not sure that the chapter, people talking about it and reliving it and closing it will happen for another 50 years,” Coulter said “For one thing, it’s fascinating. While we all who lived in Phenix City wish it had never happened. It did and it’s part of our history. It is part of what made us who we were today.”

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