Patricia Joan (Patterson) Eisenhauer was born in Nebraska City, Nebraska on October 1, 1930.
Her parents, Luther and Faye Patterson, were “working their way through college” (Peru State Normal) by operating a boarding house for other students, men in the winter, women in the summer. Pat's famous smile was enhanced when she crashed her kiddy-car down the cellar steps.
Her dad graduated and found employment in a series of small-town school districts: Principal, coach, math teacher. High School Principal in Columbus, Superintendent in Cozad, and finally, as Superintendent in Estes Park, Colorado.
Pat usually ranked first, academically. Memories featured singing in school choirs, duets with a friend, accompanied by sister Donna, and friends. She always attended Sunday School, and Girl Scout Camp, later church camps. She remembered a kitten, winning a lamp at a medicine show. First prize for fudge every year at the county fair.
High school included leads in the school plays, French horn in the band (highlight: marching in competition at Soldier Field in Chicago), and, of course, choir.
Pat met Phil (her husband of 72 years) in the Junior College choir in Fairbury NE. She got a teaching certificate, and he finished college and theological seminary “on the sweat of his frau.”
They came to Bellevue in 1956. Pat managed the manse which included accommodating the first worship services of The Lake Hills Community Church in the residence. Here, four children were born: Lynn '56, John '59, Kay '61 and Jane '64. A Bellevue American front-page story featured Pat baking a few hundred dozen cookies to serve a series of parishioner families invited in each Advent for “Cookies, Carols and a Story.”
The next move, to Cheney in Eastern Washington, afforded Pat the opportunity to complete her baccalaureate. Finally, a fully accredited teaching degree! Never mind the last two credits to fulfill graduation requirements were acquired by challenging a two-credit archery class!
The family then uprooted to Great Falls MT. Here Pat's creativity flourished. When her youngest kept climbing the neighbor's pre-school fence, Pat relented, paid the stipend and began teaching home-bound students: hospital beds, juvenile retention, and in-home convalescents. Then she got “promoted” to the state School for the Deaf and Blind. She was recruited to write a grant proposal to initiate a “gifted program.” When they could not locate a PhD to be the first teacher, they resorted to common sense and hired Pat— short of the story, the program flourished, she acquired a specialty and traveled widely lecturing to aspiring administrators.
The last professional move came in 1975. Phil to Magnolia UCC, Pat to the Seattle Schools. Hundreds of teachers had been “riffed.” Pat got hired because of her specialty. She taught at Fauntleroy, was bumped upstairs to “supervise” the nascent “gifted” classrooms around the city, and, for the last five years prior to retirement, returned to a first or second grade bilingual classroom at Coe on Queen Anne.
Together they built their retirement home in the Seacliff neighborhood of Gig Harbor. Never idle, Pat volunteered at Discovery School for another eighteen years. Twenty-five years in, suffering a very high platelet count and emerging dementia, Pat expressed the need of downsizing and promoted exactly where they should move: Silver Glen, a retirement cooperative. A brilliant decision, but the insidious disease crept on. After five years another recommendation: “All I need,” she lobbied, “is a small room where they will take care of me.”
And so, one more move: Phil to a cottage on John and Dee's property on Bainbridge Island, Pat to Memory Care at Madrona House, a mile away, with a well-deserved reputation for compassionate caring.
Pat fell and broke some bones. Dementia had taken most of her agility, speech, and sparkle. She had long-since agreed on what was wanted regarding end-of-life decisions. All the medical team concurred. The four children were unanimous. Hospice Comfort Care was contracted and with their tender and compassionate ministries engaged Pat eased from this life in pain-free dignity, February 21, 2023.
We remember her smile. We celebrate her compassion. We knew her generous hospitality, We knew her love of children and teaching and travel and singing. We marveled at how dozens were offered friendship and shelter and welcomed into her home. We honor her here, and will, with memorial scholarships to children in Guatemala.
Her benediction for all of us:
“Life is short and we do not have much time to be a blessing to others, so be quick to gladden the heart of those who travel the way with us. Be swift to love and make haste to be kind.”
Memorials are suggested to GRACES, a non-profit organization based in North Carolina supporting the Escuela Integrada de NinosTrabajadores in Antigua, Guatemala . To donate, visit wearegraces.org OR send a check to GRACES, PoBox 532 Salisbury, NC 28144.