Patricia Mattner (Pat Tobin Chapman), age 94, completed life's mission Saturday, August 6, 2011, at Our House Assisted Living in Menomonie with her son and daughter at her side. If you knew Pat, you'd understand the significance of her passing on the anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act.
A direct descendant of Kenosha pioneer Patrick Tobin, she was born on March 26, 1917, to Andrew and Teresa (Tobin) Chapman.
As an only child, she was able to participate in ballet and toe dance lessons, which she loved. Pat graduated in 1935 from Mary D. Bradford High School, where she was one of three students who won the first athletic letters ever awarded to girl cheerleaders. Her quote in her senior yearbook stated, "But my feet, they dance in answer to a distant tambourine."
Her life was a dance and flurry of activities. She received her two-year degree from Kenosha Normal and began her teaching in the rural schools. Needing to independently raise her three children, Pat continued her education at Dominican College-Racine completing a bachelor’s degree in education so that she could teach in city schools. Initially she taught fourth grade at Roosevelt School but, when her children were grown, Pat continued her education and earned a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in counseling. She left the classroom to work as Kenosha School District home visitor. This work enhanced her lifetime passion of helping children and families in need.
Pat helped promote the formation of Planned Parenthood in Kenosha and was honored for 40 years of service to area Girl Scout groups. She served as educational chairman and vice president of the Mental Health Association, which sponsored the first drug program in Kenosha. She was one of the founders of the Kenosha Youth Development Service, and served as a foster mother for hard-to-place teens.
A liberal in beliefs, she was a strong supporter of the Democratic Party. This peaked her interest in civil rights work. As Another Mother for Peace member, she marched against the Vietnam and Iraq wars, even in later years with the aid of her walker. She supported CROP Hunger Hikes, maintained memberships in the National Organization of Woman (NOW), Sierra club, and was fundamental in establishing the Bradford Unitarian Universalist Church of Kenosha.
Near her retirement, Pat was selected as Kenosha Woman of the Year in 1977. She was quoted as saying, "This is my community; I've lived here always. And I care what happens to people here. I was doing things I liked to do." This simple credo ruled her life.
After retirement she bought a farm with family in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee and split her time between there and Kenosha for the next 25 years.
Pat loved summers surrounded by family. She enjoyed gardening, especially weeding. Always an avid reader of mail, newspapers, books, magazines and roadside signs, if she found something of interest it was often clipped out and tucked away to share with someone. Her Winnebago camper took family and friends across the country on many adventures. She loved nature, birds and stars. Many summers were spent camping with family and friends at Boot Lake. Favorite songs were shared while singing around the campfire. Pride in her Irish heritage found her in numerous shades of green all the way down to her famous green tennis shoes. She enjoyed craft fairs, history, the road less travelled, making lists, singing, dancing, jewelry and food in interesting combinations that "hit the spot!" Pat was green before her time, reusing and repurposing EVERYTHING, often with the help of duct tape. A giver of unique gifts; many that made her family chuckle. Her biggest gift of all was the memories that she has left for her family and friends.
Upon moving to Menomonie to live near family, she resided at Autumn Village Assisted Living apartments and attended the Unitarian Society of Menomonie. Her final days were spent in hospice at Our House Assisted Living.
Caring and spunky daughter, mom, grandmother and great-grandmother.
She was preceded in death by parents, Andrew and Teresa Chapman; daughter, Carol Joy Tobin-Chapman; granddaughter, Teresa Louise Tormey; and great-grandson Daniel Tormey.
Pat leaves to celebrate her memory, daughter, Sue Ann (Roger) Jenrich and son, Jack (Mary) Mattner; grandchildren, Rachel (David) Hornsby, Gabrielle (Bill) Sharrock, Colleen (Robert) Greenwood, Andrew (Carrie) Jenrich, Allison (Michael) Feller, Geda Mattner, Cynthia Maureen (Brad) Haviland, Sean (Chantal) Mattner and Patrick Goolsby; great-grandchildren, Perry, Tobin and Mallory Greenwood, Jack, Luke and William Feller, Jack, Brad and Anna Li Hornsby, Alex and Arianna Sharrock, and Caroline and Jon Bryce Haviland. Pat was survived by many special friends and the world at large who she also considered family.
A celebration of Pat’s life was held at Bradford Unitarian Universalist Church on September 3, 2011.