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Alumni Award Recipient

Nona Sparks Patterson (58C)

Award: 2009 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Achievements: Nona Sparks Patterson (58C) started her career as a teacher but eventually made her mark as an entrepreneur in the furniture business. Mrs. Patterson drew inspiration from Berry founder Martha Berry when, in 1966, she rented a small space in Lawrenceville, Ga., and opened her first furniture store. At the time, she only had $500 in her savings account. “When I think of women in business, I always think of Martha Berry,” she stated. “She still amazes me. Miss Berry cultivated and supervised the construction of many wonderful buildings on a beautiful campus. She was an early example of women making advancements in our society.” The work ethic Mrs. Patterson developed while paying her own way through college served her well in the years to come as her business expanded to include stores in the nearby communities of Buford and Stone Mountain. Despite being advised by others not to enter a competitive market dominated by national chains, Patterson was able to achieve financial success through wise investments in real estate and a willingness to take advantage of new opportunities and adjust her business to reflect changing trends. Mrs. Patterson is a five-time winner of the President’s Award given by the Georgia Home Furnishings Association. In addition to board service for that organization, she is also a graduate of the Gwinnett County Senior Leadership Program and a trustee of the Gwinnett County Arts Council. Other community involvement includes service as a Sunday school teacher at the First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville and active membership in both the North Gwinnett Rotary Club and the Gwinnett Retired Teachers Association, the latter of which she served as president. She lives with her husband and business partner, J.M. Patterson. The couple has two sons, Stacy and Jonathan. Stacy received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Georgia. He now serves as vice president of Furniture Village, the business his parents started, and handles the marketing for the stores. Jonathan is principal of Norcross High School.

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