The mental health and human service communities were deeply saddened by the Aug. 5 passing of C. Patrick (Pat) Babcock at age 77. He was a giant in the field and served for many years on our board.
Pat directed five state offices/departments: Drug Abuse & Alcoholism; Services to the Aging; Labor; Mental Health; and Human Services. He worked effectively for both Democratic and Republican Governors. That skillful bi-partisan ability was a great reflection on Pat, but also representative of different times and political climates. In the 1990s, Pat became disenchanted with one of the political party’s actions on mental health and other health care. He also recognized that partisanship had become a hammer in Lansing.
After leaving state government, Pat became director of public policy for the Kellogg Foundation, where he served till his retirement in 2005. The year before, Governor Granholm tapped Pat and Wally Prechter (World Heritage Foundation & Prechter Family Fund) to co-chair a special state commission on mental health. Pat and Wally did an admirable job in circumstances that were most challenging and difficult.
Soon after, Pat joined our board and made major contributions to our work. Among them, Pat was a driving force in the establishment of our mental health-and-justice coalition, Partners in Crisis, which still exists today. Except for a brief break in parts of 2015-16, Pat served on our Board till his passing.
Pat was a fountain of wisdom, experience and temperament. When he disagreed with someone, he said so, and gave his reasons, plainly and calmly. There was no malice in his arguments. He didn’t put you on the defensive, and you had to give strong consideration to his counsel.