Life Story Funeral Homes®
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Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Patricia Mullen

February 7, 2024
Kalamazoo, MI




Patricia Mullen passed away peacefully February 7th, after a long and noble battle with Parkinson's Disease.

Pat brightened every room with her genuine smile, giving way to a hint of humor and a quick wit. But even for those who thought they knew Pat, there were always more stories from this talented and self-effacing Kalamazoo native. She was private. In fact, it would take just the right question to learn she spoke German, toured South America with the Canadian Chamber Ensemble, was the cellist for the Stratford Festival for 24 years and a dual-citizen of Canada and the US. She was also one of the few who saw a UFO up close in the late 60s, right in Kalamazoo.

Pat was born at Bronson Hospital, September 10, 1949, attended Hillcrest Elementary School, South Junior High, and then Loy Norrix High School, class of '67. By the time she was ten, she was studying cello with the accomplished German cellist Lillian Baldauf. Pat played in the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony, but her musical interests (sparked by her mother, Alice R. Mullen, KSO pianist and soloist in the area), extended beyond the instrument, and she sang under Tom Kasdorf in all of his memorable Loy Norrix choirs. She also participated in the All-State program at Interlochen Music Camp several summers.

After graduating from Michigan State University with honors in 1971, she enrolled in the School for International Training, MS program, Brattleboro, Vermont, inspired by her homestay in Graz, Austria the summer before, with the Experiment in International Living. The SIT program had a residency requirement, and Pat worked for the Yehudi Menuhin School for gifted musical youth in Stoke d'Abernon, Surrey, England. After playing in the International Youth Orchestra in Salzburg, Austria that summer, she moved to Canada and became the assistant to the Cultural Director of the newly formed Banff School for the Arts, in Alberta Canada. But after taking a number of masterclasses while working at Banff, her cello playing then took center stage, and Pat enrolled in the University of Western Ontario, London, receiving her MS in 1975. She played in the Toronto Opera Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, and finally accepted the position as cellist for the Stratford Festival Orchestra, playing and living in Stratford for over two decades. Those years were also busy ones with additional opportunities, and she toured the Western United States with the Bonnie Phipps Folk Ensemble (1985), and was the cellist and arranger of some of the tunes on Canadian singer Loreena McKennitt's first album, Elemental, 1985. Touring with the Canadian Chamber Orchestra all over South America was also a memorable experience; and there were numerous spontaneous musical events in the creative Stratford Festival environment and Pat had many a part, sometimes playing an electric cello, and even a fiddle.

When Pat returned to Kalamazoo, she devoted her talents to substitute teaching in the Kalamazoo and Portage Public schools working with special needs students. She returned to singing under Tom Kasdorf at the First Presbyterian Church. And in 2010 Pat began assembling several local history blogs, among them, Remembering Judge Mullen, a tribute to her father the Honorable C. H. Mullen, and another chronicling the backstage views of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra over 50 years, entitled Alice's Archives. Although these two blogs centered on archived items from her parents, they also tribute a number of Kalamazoo stars, Tom Kasdorf, for example. She probably would have had more extensive writings, had Parkinson's Disease not intervened.

Though she was reticent about her accomplishments, Pat would delight in sharing the extraordinary tale of encountering a UFO one frosty January evening in 1967, while she was alone in her parents' car - daring to stop the engine, and get out to see if she could hear a sound! It was silent. Hers was not the only sighting that night.

Her quick wit, kindness and appreciation of others will live on in memory for those fortunate enough to have known her. Pat brightened so many lives.

Pat leaves a sister, Martie Holmer, of New York City, loyal cousins from all over the United States, many friends and especially all those who cared for her in her last years. She was very grateful. A memorial service is scheduled for late March.

Donations to several causes would be appropriate: The Michael J. Fox Foundation, The Parkinson's Association.