Beloved singing Costco clerk mending after surgery

His Facebook page is filled with posts wishing him well

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian special projects reporter

Published:

Updated: May 1, 2013, 6:22 PM

 

You can help

Supporters of Teddy Patrick, who works at a Vancouver Costco Wholesale store, are collecting donations to cover any medical bills not paid by his insurance. Checks should be written to Heritage Bank Account 21050001178. “For the benefit of Teddy Patrick” should be written on the memo line. Donations can be made at any Heritage Bank Branch or mailed to the bank at 700 Washington St., Suite 106, Vancouver, WA 98660.

Facebook is overflowing with electronic well-wishes and prayers for the beloved singing Costco clerk, Teddy Patrick of Vancouver, who was hospitalized last weekend.

To the distress of his loyal following, severe headaches had often kept Patrick home from work recently. He drove himself to the PeaceHealth Southwest Washington Medical Center on Sunday, where he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.

“I am so blessed,” Patrick said after being discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. “The Lord has healed me. I am so overwhelmed with great joy and appreciation.”

Patrick, 71, has won the hearts of thousands of customers at the Costco store on Northeast 84th Street in Vancouver, where his job in customer service includes checking receipts as customers leave. He looks customers in the eye and offers sincere good wishes. Sometimes he croons “Unchained Melody” or another song.

A few years ago, a shopper started a Facebook page in his honor — "Teddy from Costco Vancouver, WA" — that has 3,862 fans and counting.

Former coworker Debi Cronin-Stoll has been posting updates on Patrick’s condition.

“He’s just the kind of person you want to be around. He’s uplifting and positive and always encouraging,” she said. “He always seems to know what to say to people to lift their spirits — and it’s genuine.”

Since hearing of his medical emergency, Costco customers have filled the page with prayers and good wishes for Patrick.

“He’s a real special employee,” said Carol Green, Costco assistant manager. “We hope the best for him, and that we can get him back as soon as we can. Everyone misses him very much.”

In addition to the popularity Patrick gained through his job at Costco, he is also widely recognized for appearing in print and television ads for Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette.

Patrick found himself jobless and homeless in 2002. Goodwill’s Job Connection program helped him get his life back on track.

Costco takes applications online now, but still took paper ones when Patrick was job hunting. Patrick completed a stack of forms and kept going back to submit them.

He nabbed a job at the Portland store, and moved to the Vancouver outlet when it opened in 2005.

Patrick gained a reputation for his singing by accident, he said. One day, he was sweeping the breezeway of the store and singing to himself. A shopper heard him and said, “Sing it again.” Customers have come to expect a song from him.

As one Facebook comment states, “A trip to Costco just isn’t satisfying with out seeing Teddy’s special smile and receiving his ‘God bless you!’ He spreads so much sunshine around him!”

Erin Middlewood: 360-735-4516; http://www.twitter.com/emiddlewood; http://facebook.com/reportermiddlewood; erin.middlewood@columbian.com.