Patricia Ann (Schrader) Wirtanen, age 82, went to be with her Lord on December 27, after fifteen years with Alzheimer’s Disease, at Elysian of Lake City residence. She was born at her parent’s home on July 19, 1941 during a very strong thunder storm in Berlin, NY. She came in literally with a “bang” as lightning struck nearby and caused the attending nurse to faint. Her father, who helped to deliver her, was Victor D. Schrader of Woodstock, NY, and mother was Marion May Maxon of Berlin, NY.
She was the oldest of four children, Victoria (Paul Dichian) of Troy, NY; Robert (Karen) of Athens, NY, and Marilyn (Andrea) of Athens, NY. She is preceded in death by her mother and father.
Since her father worked for the NY State Forestry Department, her family moved around the state until finally settling in Athens, NY. She attended Athens Elementary School and then graduated from Coxsackie-Athens High School. She went to State of New York University (SUNY) at Potsdam where she graduated with a BA in Elementary Education.
She met her future husband, Carl Wirtanen, at a dance after a playoff basketball game between their high schools in March 1968, her Junior year. That night began a record-setting snowfall that ended several days later and closed their schools for a week. They utilized that time to get to know each other and began their 65-year life together. They were married on June 22nd 1963. Their first jobs were in Cleveland, OH, and then moved quickly to Davenport, IA where they had two sons, Carl Allen and David Lloyd. Patricia taught elementary school in Cleveland and in Davenport.
In 1966, Carl took a job with Control Data in Minnesota and they moved there. She only did substitute teaching since Minnesota did not recognize her NY credentials, so she focused on raising the boys. While living in Minnesota, she and her husband moved around Dakota County and later to southeast Minnesota as her husband changed jobs. As they did so, her community and church participation also changed somewhat with each location.
Patricia was respected and looked up to for her strong convictions and faith as well as her God-given abilities to train people and organize them. She was seen as a leader and held many leadership positions within her churches, her community, and several organizations. She was active in the Republican Party of MN from the time she moved there and quickly became a leader. She held various leadership positions in the League of Women Voters and the Daughters of the American Revolution and helped form a chapter of Metro Republican Women. Through the Council of Churches, she helped develop the Clothes Closet, an organization which provided all kinds of clothing and accessories to people of need in western Dakota County. She was always ready to meet a need such as organizing and managing a program to provide “flood buckets” for those locally and in national and international flood-stricken areas in conjunction with UMCOR. Her abiding interest in history and community led her to join the Lake City Historical Society.
Patricia was a very loving wife and mother. Proverbs 31 says in part, ”10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” She was in every way, an “excellent wife”. She was a sensitive person who was willing to forego her own desires to work for the betterment of others. She rarely had a harsh word for anyone, but there were times when she would stand her ground, especially if she thought someone was acting foolishly or inappropriately. She raised her boys to know right from wrong—and they still do—while fighting fiercely for them. They both were afflicted with dyslexia, and even though the school district had made some early attempts to deal with such children, not all teachers were yet on board, and resources were not readily available. She tirelessly advocated for her boys and was successful in not only getting them the help they needed, she helped the schools advance in both understanding and resources.
She not only advocated for family, but she was a strong believer in participating in the important tasks of selecting and working for people to represent her in all levels of government. While a member of a mission church in what is now Apple Valley, she was a member of the committee that developed the slate of candidates most of whom were elected as the first council and mayor of that city. She was later appointed to the Apple Valley Planning Commission, and also chaired the first Cable TV Commission. Years later, she worked for Al Quie’s gubernatorial campaign and was appointed to the Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission where she helped plan many of the regional parks now within the metro region. She worked for many local, state legislature, and congressional candidates’ campaigns.
Patricia was first and foremost, a lover of God and believed in Jesus Christ. Because of this, she was an active church member where ever she lived. She began teaching children’s Sunday school when she was 14 and continued to teach children in her churches until she became interested in teaching adults which she did until the disease rendered her incapable. She lived out her faith in the secular world by working for Midwest Federal, qualifying loans; The Apple Valley Medical Clinic, where she managed the reception and Front office functions; and then Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, where she was an underwriting specialist, from which she retired in 2005.
Patricia loved the outdoors, having been raised in the country and taught to hunt at an early age by her father. She also loved dogs and gardening, both of which figured prominently in her life. Her family was rarely without a dog, and as the boys grew older, multiple dogs were common. The boys learned about death through losing some of these pets. In her spare time, which was limited, she could be found in one of her gardens preparing, changing, or otherwise maintaining it. She had a “green thumb” and could get most anything to grow. She was talented in flower arranging and actually won some awards when she was in a garden club in Apple Valley.
Pat became known over the years as the “lighthouse lady” because she had an strong interest in lighthouses and began collecting them. Lighthouses for her were symbolic of Jesus being the light to the world and this theme was very important to her.
Another hobby was sort of “forced” on her since a close friend began to give her elephants as gifts because they were Republicans. It started as a joke, but soon grew out of control as people that knew her would give her elephants on various occasions. It took over a fairly large display cabinet.
Patricia sums up what she hoped would be said of her life in this brief rhyme:Patricia was
A combined visitation and celebration of life service will be held at Redeeming Grace Community Church, 213 North Oak St, Lake City, MN 55041, on Friday, January 12th, with the visitation at 10:00 am and the service at 11 am. A meal will be served following the service. Flowers and donations may be given to Redeeming Grace Community Church. Proceeds will be used to support both children’s and adult Chistian education, both of which were top priorities for Patricia. On-Line Condolences may be placed at www.mahnfamilyfuneralhome.com