Patsy Lou Newell

August 5, 1936 - September 24, 2020

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“Our Patsy,” age 84, died on the morning of Sept. 24, 2020.

On Sept. 20 she suffered a severe stroke and was flown by helicopter to Swedish Medical Center. With the help of caring staff at Swedish and Jefferson Healthcare Hospice, Patsy was discharged home on Sept. 22. Her family is grateful to have had the opportunity to care for her in her final two days. Family and friends both near and far were able to share with her their words of gratitude and love. She died peacefully at home with family by her side. 

Born Patsy Lou Childers in Mount Vernon, Illinois, she was the eldest of six children. Patsy was raised by loving parents, Carrie (Spence) and James Osbourn Childers. She is preceded in death by her parents, her brothers’ JC and Mike and her sister Linda. 

Patsy graduated from high school in Norfolk, Nebraska. After graduation, she, and a couple of high school friends enrolled in the School of Nursing Diploma Program at Nebraska Methodist Hospital in Omaha. She liked to tell the story of how her father cashed in a $500 life insurance policy to pay all the costs of the three-year nursing program, including room and board, tuition,  and books. 

On a blind date, arranged by mutual friends, Patsy met Graham, the man who would become her husband. Patsy was a year away from completing nursing school. Graham was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force. They went to dinner at an establishment frequented by officers in the Air Force. A fond recollection of the evening is Graham recommending the Caesar salad, hoping to impress Patsy with how the salad was prepared tableside by the maître d. Patsy was impressed, with the salad and more importantly with Graham. Three months later, on Sept. 3, 1957, they married. Their honeymoon was a road trip from Nebraska to Oregon, traveling in Graham’s 1949 turquoise Cadillac with whitewall tires. The song “Honeycomb” became their song, broadcast on radio stations all along the way. The destination was Pacific City, a small coastal town, where Patsy and Graham would develop lifelong friendships and return at least annually over the 63 years they shared together. 

For all but one year of their married life Patsy and Graham would live on the West Coast separated by distance from her family and friends in the Midwest. Love and connection were important values for Patsy. Despite the separation, Patsy maintained close ties with her family and some of her high school friends. They reciprocally, acknowledged special occasions and  birthdays with a card and written correspondence. Throughout her life Patsy made sending cards a priority. She enjoyed taking the time to write her thoughts and finding just the right card for the occasion. She also loved receiving cards, displaying, and sharing them for days after. In later years, Patsy and her three sisters Linda, Cynthia, and Pam, made a point of visiting each other regularly. They shared so many fun times together. The sisters were with Patsy and family on the Oregon Coast to celebrate Patsy’s 80th birthday. They came together to celebrate Graham and Patsy’s 60th wedding anniversary at the Grand Canyon. Patsy also stayed connected to her group of high school friends. “The Divas” as they later called themselves,  along with their spouses, would reunite every few years at various destinations around the country. 

During her career as a registered nurse, Patsy worked at multiple healthcare organizations. She retired in 2010 from Jefferson Healthcare after 32 years. She held several different roles throughout her long tenure, including staff nurse, assistant director of nursing, discharge, and  pre-op coordinator. Her final and probably favorite role was working as a patient advocate. Her work was important to her. She was thorough and methodical, going the extra mile to accomplish what was needed. Patsy enjoyed people, those she served and those she worked with. She developed friendships with coworkers that she maintained into retirement. Graham and family are appreciative to the former colleagues who sent cards with kind remembrances of time they shared with Patsy. The words were uplifting and let us know how much she was loved and appreciated. “She was my favorite co-worker in all my years of working.” Some described Patsy as “a mentor,” “wise,” “so much fun,” “a good listener,” “she always had time to listen,” “loved and respected her so much,” "she stood apart, she had grace, strength, humor, wisdom and lots of love to share.” The hospital leader, who Patsy worked with for most of her years at Jefferson, shared: “Patsy was a special person. I feel I was fortunate to have Patsy in my life; her work at Jefferson was exemplary. The community and I benefited from her caring contributions.” 

Over the years, Graham and Patsy’s home was the gathering place for countless get-togethers  of family and friends. Graham was the chef, preparing delicious meals. Patsy tended to the details, decorating, setting the table, lighting candles. They loved entertaining, hosting holidays, celebrations, or just a game of cards. 

Patsy was a role model to her children and grandchildren. She was fearless in how she lived her life. She believed in the idea that if something was important; “make it happen.” It was in her character, to “tell it like it is,” and she did, sometimes bluntly, though with kindness and often with a sense of humor. She was fun and easy to be with. One to be counted on to care; to take the time to listen; always interested in the details. Her openness to life and new experiences lead her to adventures shared with friends and with family. Some of her most memorable adventures involved swimming. Swimming was one of Patsy’s passions, an important part of her weekly routine. While on vacation in Mexico with her daughters and a girlfriend, she discovered snorkeling, a wonder-filled swimming experience. Later in life, Patsy was thrilled to be able to share this experience with Graham, when on a trip to the Cook Islands, he overcame his unease with swimming and learned to snorkel. They returned multiple times to the tropical waters.

Patsy is survived by her husband Graham; son Brad; granddaughter Haley; daughter Jennifer; daughter Andrea (Jon) Shields; and grandchildren Carlie, Marissa, and Travis. She is also survived by her sisters Cynthia (Ron) Young and Pam (Jim) Pettijohn. 

We will hold Patsy’s love close in remembering words she often spoke “love is what matters most,” “take care of yourself first,” and in honoring her legacy in how she lived her life. Don’t  hurry, take your time. Enjoy the moment. Appreciate the small things, a delicious meal, a  bouquet of flowers, the light from a candle. Find your passion. Have adventures. 

A memorial celebration of Patsy was held outdoors and through Zoom on the shore of Port Ludlow Bay on Oct. 3, 2020.

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