Before long, while attending law school at night and working during the day, he became one of the youngest FBI agents in its history, serving throughout the United States during World War II. As an FBI agent, he was exempted from serving in the military because of the importance of his position to the war effort. It was not enough, however, and he enlisted in the Army, rising to the rank of second lieutenant by the time of his discharge. He served in the Philippines and returned to Georgia to finish law school at Emory University in Atlanta. The war came calling again and he was offered and accepted a position as head of the war damage commission back in the Philippines while still in his 20s. It was there he met his future wife, Nan, a lovely flight attendant and world traveler who worked for Philippine Airlines.
After their marriage they came to California and built their lives on hard work, family and the same grit and determination of the pioneers who arrived a hundred years before them. They remained together until his passing 63 years later.
Pat passed the bar in California and found a job as a Deputy District Attorney in Merced, Calif., and soon became the District Attorney of Merced County for the next 25 years. His most famous case, which received national attention, involved the kidnapping of a young boy name Stephen Stayner, who was found years later alive and held by his kidnapper. He got the conviction and established his reputation as one of the most effective prosecutors in California, if not in the country.
In the book, “My Name is Stephen,” author Mike Echols described him as a dedicated, dignified straight arrow who was highly respected in his profession and as an FBI agent. Throughout his time in public life, he instilled in his family the values that come from his generation, the Greatest Generation, of integrity, modesty and love for family that stays with us today. He led us by example, the greatest gift a teacher can give to his pupils. Our Patriarch is gone and our grief is beyond measure.
Pat passed away in Sacramento on Jan. 26, 2014.
He is the beloved husband of Nan. Loving father of Dan, Linda, Glen and Elizabeth.
Pat was preceded in death by his parents, James and Clelar Hallford, his five brothers and one sister. He was the loving grandfather to Clayton, Claire, Noemi, Kolya, Marika and great-grandfather of Hudson Askew. He will be deeply missed by all.
A celebration of Pat’s life will be held in March at a time and place to be announced. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Pat’s name to the American Cancer Society. Condolences may be made at wfgormleyandsons.com.
The Northeast Georgian
Friday, January 31, 2014