Pat Cunningham

Pat Cunningham

Pat was born Patricia Ann Farrell in Buffalo, New York in 1929. She lived with her parents and her sister Ruth in a diverse working class neighborhood where she relentlessly rescued “animals in need” (cats, dogs, rabbits, birds) and brought them home, much to her parent’s chagrin.

Her father was a firefighter and her mother a homemaker. Her sister Ruth Catalano is 10 years older and lives in Beaumont, Texas.

Pat trained as a teacher in Madison, Wis., and worked as a special education teacher in Denver, Colo. She married and had three children, Susan, Laurie and Andy. She lived for a short time in California and then in Seattle, where she found her feminist and leftist political pathway.

Pat was a composting, recycling and co-op pioneer. She marched against the Vietnam war, supported the Labor Movement, and worked for equality for all people. She moved from Seattle to Lopez in 1971 to her home on Fisherman’s Bay.

Pat worked at Lopez School for many years, first as a substitute teacher. Later when she achieved her master’s degree, she worked as the school counselor. For many years she helped children make decisions and guided them through those difficult school years. She also worked for peace and equality. She helped to found the Lopez Library, the Historical Museum and the Land Trust. She loved her Lopez community very much. 

Pat lived in her cherished home until 2009 when a broken pelvis and a failing memory compelled her to move to Vashon Island with Laurie and Corinne.

She missed Lopez very much, but rallied her usual sunny attitude.

Pat gardened, sketched, wrote stories and enjoyed each and every day.  Pat died on August 27 at the Vashon Community Care Center. She had a stroke and died peacefully. She was 85 years old. 

We will be celebrating her life with a gathering at the Lopez Community Center on Sept. 28 from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Please bring your memories and stories, pictures, music and of course, a potluck dish to share.