James W. Patterson, 71, a Philadelphia lawyer whose expertise was transportation law, died Wednesday, Nov. 28, of prostate cancer at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse.

For more than four decades, he represented freight and passenger carriers as well as the manufacturers and distributors who used those carriers.

He liked to tell people: "If you bought it, a truck brought it," said Louis Rizzo, managing partner with Reger Rizzo & Darnall L.L.P., where Mr. Patterson worked for the last seven years.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Patterson was raised in West Philadelphia and Swarthmore. He graduated in 1958 from Swarthmore High School and excelled in academics, football, baseball, and lacrosse.

He graduated from Dickinson College in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in political science, and from the Dickinson School of Law in 1965. During his last undergraduate year, he was captain of the lacrosse team; while in law school, he coached the Dickinson College lacrosse team.

On Dec. 23, 1961, Mr. Patterson married his high-school sweetheart, Mary Ann McCombs. They raised two children in Swarthmore.

From 1966 to 1967, he served as a captain in the Army Military Police Corps, commanding a stockade in Texas and later an M.P. unit in Incheon, South Korea.

In 1968, Mr. Patterson began practicing law in Philadelphia and soon became a prominent counsel for the trucking industry.

He worked for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Rubin Quinn Moss Heaney & Patterson; Pelino & Lentz; and Saul Ewing.

Mr. Patterson's final employer was Reger Rizzo & Darnall, where he handled matters of labor and employment as well as compliance issues, Rizzo said.

His sense of humor and strength of will served him well when Mr. Patterson was diagnosed with prostate cancer 15 years ago, said his longtime friend and physician, John H. Glick.

For most of that time, Mr. Patterson lived a productive life, participating in clinical trials at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, said Glick, a former director of the center. Two months ago, when it became clear that the treatments were no longer working, Mr. Patterson decided to go into hospice care, Glick said.

He was a member and board member of the Transportation Lawyers Association, a national organization, and chaired its Passenger Transportation Committee.

He also was a longtime member of the Springhaven Club, where he golfed and served on its board of directors.

Surviving, in addition to his wife, are a son, James McKee; a daughter, Nancy Kathryn Patterson Hinnen; five grandchildren; a brother; and a sister.

A service is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at Swarthmore United Methodist Church, 129 Park Ave. His ashes will be buried in the church's memorial garden.

Contributions may be made to the James Patterson Fund, Abramson Cancer Center, Penn Medicine Development Office, 3535 Market St., Suite 750, Philadelphia 19104.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook

at 215-854-2611 or bcook@phillynews.com.