Friday, May 15, 2015
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
Vicksburg United Methodist Church
217 S. Main
Vicksburg, MI 49097
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
South County Community Services
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
It was a blessing to have known and loved Pat Oswalt. To all she encountered, Pat’s positive light shown bright. She loved bringing happiness to the days of others, and tried seeing life’s circumstances through their eyes. Pat held fast to her high standards. A woman of substance, Pat’s kind and compassionate heart will be long remembered as she lived a life of gratitude lovingly expressed in relationship with others.
Americans were beginning to hope again in 1939 as the U.S. began to slowly emerge from the Great Depression. “God Bless America” was introduced, and moviegoers enjoyed the premieres of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With the Wind.” On August 14, 1939, Everett Alexander and Ruth Hannah (Mason) Smith had cause for celebration when they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Patricia into their arms.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Patricia was an only child to her parents who hailed from English descent. Education was very important to Patricia’s parents. Her father received his Masters from Columbia University in New York City despite the Great Depression. He later went on to become the Director of Children’s Welfare and Social Work for the State of Michigan in Lansing. Having earned her Masters in Education from Michigan State University, Patricia’s mother taught fifth grade for many years and became the principle of an elementary school in Lansing.
While Pat’s father attended Columbia, their family lived in New York City. Once his education was complete, they returned to St. Louis, yet when an opening became available in Child Welfare with the State of Michigan, they moved to the Saginaw area. After receiving the directorship, they settled in East Lansing when Pat was in the sixth grade. She was proud of her family and heritage
Being an only child, as a youngster Pat developed quite an imagination. She enjoyed two imaginary friends, RinDin and Mrs. Cockindeed. RinDin was a boy elf who found plenty of mischief while Mrs. Cockindeed was Mary Poppins with a chip on her shoulder. Pat always required two extra settings at the table for her “friends”, and they traveled with them on vacations, simply becoming part of the family.
Pat was raised in the Episcopalian faith and her Uncle Avery Mason on her mother’s side was the Arch Bishop of the Dallas Diocese. In high school, Pat frequently babysat John Hannah’s children, the President of Michigan State University. Education was not only important to Pat’s family, it was a priority. Even in her youth, she always viewed her family as high achieving and hard working. Also an accomplished pianist, after graduating from East Lansing High School, Pat went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in music in 1961 from Michigan State University.
While attending MSU, Pat joined the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and soon became little sister to Gwen, one of her sorority sisters. After encouraging Pat to meet her neat brother, Gwen set up the meeting to take place at her brother’s apartment. When Bill walked in, the two girls were in the kitchen cutting onions and crying from the fumes. He said this must be the wrong apartment, and abruptly turned around and walked out. Pat fondly remembered Bill’s big grin, and how handsome he was. It was clearly love at first sight, tears and all!
Following a three year courtship, Pat and Bill were happily married in the Episcopalian Church in East Lansing on July 1, 1961. Pat always said she chose that date so Bill would remember it. A city girl through and through, Bill moved his new bride to the family farm. Even though everyone thought Pat was crazy, it was absolutely a match made in heaven.
Pat taught fifth grade at Toby Elementary School. When their two children Deb and Mike came along, she quit teaching to become a full time mother, and flourished in that roll. Pat made a wonderful home for Bill and the kids. She developed many hobbies, including the study of herbs. She educated herself on growing herb gardens and used them for cooking. She even developed a presentation used to speak to small groups about her endeavor. At one point while planning a vacation to the East Coast, she was sure to include some visits with authors on herbs and herb gardening.
In time, Pat’s culinary skills boomed. She became part of the “Martini Club” which for years included themed dinner parties, libations and fun times. It then became the “Rubber Ducky” group which featured rubber ducky races at her parent’s cabin in northern Michigan on the Betsie River which they built in 1965. Over the years Pat cooked countless fish and morel mushroom dinners there which her family harvested. Numerous memories were created and shared at this beloved home away from home. Nestled deep in the woods with a rambling creek and the Betsie River flanking each side, it was a beloved place to be. It was also Pat’s peaceful sanctuary and respite. The entire family spent this last Christmas together at the cabin sharing food, spirits and wonderful family fellowship. Certainly a showstopper to remember, Pat’s family never realized it would be their last holiday with Pat.
Family and keeping with tradition was important to Pat. Her kids and grandkids were her world, and she devoted her life to the family she loved and adored in creative ways. Each holiday had a special meaning for Pat. She literally transformed the house to celebrate the upcoming holiday with the help of her kids or grandchildren. She was known to make everyone dress as pilgrims for Thanksgiving as they read the history of the pilgrims and their journey. A teacher at heart, it was not especially fun for the young adult children in her family! Pat was an experienced seamstress and handmade each family member their own Christmas stocking. These stockings had special meaning for Pat. She never had a stocking growing up, and these special treasures were right from her heart. She also created a Santa tree and crafted Santa’s in all different shapes and sizes.
Pat celebrated the birthdays in her family complete with a homemade cake of their choice, a homemade dinner of their choice, and an elaborate kid’s party that included scavenger hunts and homemade ice cream. Pat’s greatest joy was her family. She counted the greatest days of her life as the births, weddings and simple family get-togethers as the greatest of times. She even wrote personal poems for her grandchildren on their birthdays.
Pat was a devoted, loving and supportive wife, and did so exceedingly well. She created countless picnics to share with Bill during long summer days, along with lunches and lemonade for countless farm crews. She put up with dirty feet and smelly days, but as long she had her beloved Bill and family by her side, nothing else mattered. A true helpmate, Pat stood by Bill’s side. Together they received many awards and accomplishments as a couple, and were chosen as the Outstanding Young Dairy couple of Michigan for excellence and leadership in farming by the Michigan Milk Producers Association. In 1972 they developed a corporation called Ozland Enterprises which was founded on breeding management tools for the livestock industry.
Active and social, Pat also served on the Board of Directors for South County Community Services, heading up fund development which included the Mystery Dinner and the South County Community Auctions. Pat played an integral role in the Development of the South County Community Endowment Fund which she took great pride in.
Pat was full of good advice, especially for her children. Her pearls of wisdom often included, “pick the right partner, because I did.” Pat had a way of seeing things through the eyes of others. Her motto was to make others happy, and she did so with a caring heart. Pat set her standards high in all she did, and will forever remain a treasure in the hearts of many.
Patricia R. Oswalt, of Vicksburg passed away on Monday, May 11, 2015 at the age of 75. The family will receive friends Thursday from 4-7 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697). A memorial service will be held on Friday, 11:00 AM at Vicksburg United Methodist Church. Please visit Pat’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign her guestbook, share a memory and/or photo. Those who wish may make contributions in Pat’s memory to the South County Community Services.