Pattie passed away last Sunday from heart failure. To me, this is quite ironic, because of all the members of my family, I’ve always thought of Pattie as the one with the biggest and strongest heart. In this, Pattie took after our mother Dorothy, who passed away several years ago. Like our mother, Pattie always felt things deeply, and cared very much about her friends, her family, and her work.
She began working at the age of 17, beginning as a teller at a small bank in Garden Grove. In the next six years, she rose to the position of senior vice president and branch manager. During this time, she supervised the building and opening of two new offices. In the following six years, Pattie was vice president for marketing, public relations, and business development, helping to grow the business and improving the bank’s bottom-line.
After twelve years, the bank was acquired. Making the change from being a valued member of a management team to looking for a job in the teeth of the savings and loan shakeout and a recession was difficult. Losing this familiar work situation came as a real blow to Pattie, and it took her some time to regain her balance. Since mid 1994, Pattie worked for GE Capital, and seemed to be once again in the kind of supportive environment in which she thrived. I know that some of Pattie’s coworkers are here, and I’d like to thank you for the kindness that you showed my sister.
In her personal life, Pattie gave greatly of herself to others, but often shortchanged herself. Unfortunately, Pattie never found the supportive and deeply committed relationship that she always wanted. Perhaps because she had no children of her own, Aunt Pattie was wonderful with our sister Marie’s children, Chris, Tom, and Katie; our brother Robert’s children Kayla and Robert; and with my own son Sean. She was devoted to our father and grandmother. When we lost our mother, Pattie put aside her own grief in order to help our dad deal with his loss. And it was important to Pattie to stay in contact with her grandmother.
Her friends were also important to her, and she took great joy in her many close friendships. I’d especially like to thank Pattie’s closest friend, Julie McCluney, who has been wonderfully supportive throughout this difficult time.
Pattie’s heart led her to become active in the community, and she had more than 20 years of community service in leadership positions to many organizations, including the March of Dimes, the City of Hope, and the Ronald McDonald House. Those of you who are active in community organizations knows how there’s always somebody in the group who works her tail off and actually gets things done while other people are still talking. Pattie was that person.
For the Boys and Girls Clubs of Garden Grove, she served with distinction on the Board of Directors and was in charge of public relations for the club’s main fund-raising event, the Wine Festival. Part of the Wine Festival is a large auction of fine wines, and Pattie’s organizational skills served her well in pulling together the catalog for the auction.
Pattie also worked since 1989 for the annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival. This event attracts celebrities from the entertainment, sports, and business worlds, and Pattie’s job as VIP Liaison was to coordinate the celebrity appearances. Her efficiency and professionalism kept the celebrities happy, the star-struck off the celebrities backs, and made the event run smoothly.
As a member of the Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce, Pattie was in charge of their Student Career Day event for many years. This event brings together students, business leaders, and the schools in helping to shape the future career path of hundreds of young people. For her work on these and many other projects, she received the prestigious Silver Spoon award from the Chamber.
Pattie’s gift for caring for others gave her a genuine pride and joy in the accomplishments of her friends and family. Speaking for myself, she was always immensely supportive of my writing career, and she was thrilled as I advanced from writing short magazine articles to longer pieces, and then to writing books. She always demanded that I get her a copy of each book as soon as it rolled off the presses. Because I write fairly technical books about computers, she didn’t always understand what the heck I was writing about. But for Pattie, what mattered was that her brother had written the book. I’m working on a new book now, and I will be dedicating that book to Pattie, with gratitude for her love and support.
The doctors told us that Pattie’s heart failed her. And though that might be true from a strictly medical standpoint, in the more important sense I have to disagree. I knew my sister, and I say that her big heart never truly betrayed her. Sometimes it led her astray, and sometimes it led her to focus on others when she should have been taking care of herself. But most of the time the call of her heart led her to do the right thing, the kind thing, the loving thing. When it comes time for us to join her, each of us will be lucky to live up to that standard.
As I mentioned before, Pattie had a gift for organizing and running events, making them happen smoothly and on time. But in this, her final event, I’m sorry to say that her timing was way off. Pattie, your guests have all arrived many years too soon. We love you, we miss you, and we will always keep you in our hearts and minds.