Carl and Jane Patterson

Carl and Jane Patterson died in a car crash near Brooksville on State Road 50 in October 2006. Carl was Windermere's former mayor, part-time planner and unofficial town historian. (x, Courtesy of Robert Patterson / October 30, 2006)

My holiday is over now,

I'm leaving in a day,

For the north where home is calling,

Where there is work to do,

But Windermere, dear Windermere,

How I shall long for you.

Undated poem in 'Windermere Among the Lakes: The Story of a Small Town'

'It is an inexpressible joy to stand in Windermere and look upon the clear water of the lakes," a 1911 brochure exclaimed about the small west Orange town that has inspired devotion from residents and visitors for more than a century.

Very probably, few have loved it as much as Carl Patterson, who gave me a copy of that brochure, the same way he generously shared so many things about Orange County history.

Regularly, letters from Carl would appear with translations from the German of early articles about Gotha, facts about famed horticulturist Henry Nehrling, even background on what may be the area's most historic outhouse -- a survivor from a Works Progress Administration program that Carl researched as thoroughly as if it were a Greek temple.

A Realtor, former Windermere mayor, town planner and head of the town's Historic Preservation Board, Carl was also one of the fathers of Orange County history, and Father's Day is a great time to remember him.

A retired Army lieutenant colonel, in his 80s he retained a military man's attention to detail, but in phone messages to me and to many others, he would sign off as simply "Carl."

About this time last year, as he did every year, he'd call folks on his list of history buddies and invite us to visit Windermere for an inspiring small-town Fourth of July.

Come for the town's pancake breakfast, he would say, and visit the table where he would be camped out with displays about Windermere's history and copies of his book -- for years an amalgam of Carl's writings and a plethora of Xeroxed photos and documents that grew bigger each year.

Land of the lakes

If you stopped by for pancakes and history, Carl might tell you how the town got its start in the mid-1880s, about the time an influx of English settlers hit Orange County.

Around 1885, the Rev. Joseph Hill Scott -- an Englishman -- bought about 150 acres on the shore of Lake Butler.

His son, Oxford grad Dr. Stanley Scott, homesteaded the property and "bestowed the name Windermere, many believe after the famous Lake Windermere in England," according to Carl.

By the way, "mere" means "lake," from the same root as "marine."