Shirley Patterson
Shirley Patterson

Obituary of Shirley Gail Patterson

Shirley Patterson passed away Wednesday, April 26, 2006 in the arms of her loving children at the Franciscan Hospice House in University Place, Washington. Born to Clinton and Reza Fleetwood on December 14, 1921, Shirley was raised in Seattle along with her two sisters, Mary Ann and Kathryn. Deeply rooted in Seattle’s history, Shirley is related to the Mercer Family, founders of the University of Washington among other early Seattle pioneering history. An avid outdoors adventurer, Shirley exhibited pioneering spirit herself by surprising her parents on her 16th birthday. Unbeknown to them, she learned to fly a floatplane and the day she soloed, she had her parents come to a dock on Lake Washington where she landed for the surprise of their lives! She was one of the first women to learn to fly a floatplane in the Northwest in 1937. Her passion for aviation continued through several of her 7 children who today are private and commercial pilots. While attending school, Shirley was on the University of Washington Ski Team as well as an active competitor on the school Rifle Team. As a stunning and talented brunette, she was selected as Potlatch Queen (now known as the Seattle Sea Fair) in 1939. These activities caught her future husband Allen Patterson’s attention who at the time was a quarterback for the University of Washington. They were married in Seattle in 1941 where the first 2 children, Allen Jr. and Kathryn were born. Following the war in 1948, Shirley and family moved to Portland where Scott was born. A family business was started on Sandy Blvd. called Hollywood Ford with partner Bruce Stoddard. Shirley’s passion for roses and gardening surfaced here in the “Rose City” environment. In 1952 after a 1-year stay in the Hope Ranch area in Santa Barbara, the Fivesome moved to an 85-acre ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley just north of Santa Barbara, California. Patterson Ford was now a reality, just 30 minutes north located in Santa Maria. Here, children Wayne, James, Robert and Nancy (first and last born on the same day 14 years apart!) were born. People remember Shirley mostly behind the wheel of a station wagon hauling her kids and friends to 4H, Boy Scouts, dancing lessons, school sports or to activities in nearby Solvang. The family was her career and along with her loving joy and spirit of giving were truly her legacy among family and friends. It was at the ranch where her garden efforts peaked with over 300 roses to name a few of the many flowers in her beautiful yard. Golf was her 2nd passion, playing and coaching our swings as well as following the PGA tournaments (and Tiger Woods) until only a few months ago! Shirley returned to the northwest moving to Bellevue in 1963 where the children were raised and schooled. Always the mother and “always-in-motion”, she could not sit still after her own kids were gone, so she became a housemother at a sorority at the University of Washington. Longing for the warm weather, she returned to Santa Barbara in the late 70’s as housemother for two sororities at the University of California Santa Barbara where she reigned for 12 years. Then, she moved north to be closer to family, landing as housemother at a sorority at the University of Oregon for several years. Shirley moved to the beautiful Life Manor senior center in Tacoma, Washington in 1999 as a resident for 7 years where she created fragrant and magical gardens around the complex, including a 60-rose garden for the enjoyment and amazement of the residences. Also, she was also active in the Tacoma Rose Society earning many awards for her outstanding creations. The roses were her “kids” now, receiving her loving care and passion. For the last 6 months, Shirley was under the thoughtful care and staff of the Courtyard at the Willows assisted living facility in Puyallup, Washington. Daughter Nancy and her husband Jerry lived close by for the last 7 years, caring for Shirley as needed beyond residence assistance. They were her soul partners through thick and thin. Their faith, devotion and loving attention to Shirley will always be remembered and were sincerely appreciated by everyone. Shirley’s enthusiasm for gardening was truly contagious and to the end, was a walking encyclopedia of garden detail. All her children share her love of gardening and will continue in her footsteps to make our gardens her sanctuary. When reminded of her achievements, Shirley would mention that the “Journey” was truly her joy. A memorial service is planned for Saturday June 17, 2006 at the Life Christian Church, next to Life Manor in Tacoma, WA. Shirley is survived by children, Allen and Kathryn of Lake Oswego, OR; Scott of Agoura Hills and Paso Robles, CA; Wayne of San Luis Obispo, CA; James of Richland, WA; Robert of Maui, Hawaii; Nancy of University Place, WA., and seven grandchildren. A sister Kathryn (Fleetwood) Anderson and her family live in the Seattle area. ROSES..PASSION..GOD Looking back at the blessings the Lord has bestowed upon Life Manor, I certainly must mention Shirley Patterson. On July 1, 1999, Shirley moved from Santa Barbara, California to be closer to her family. When I met with Shirley she said she had one condition to her move. I eagerly listened to her request. As a rose gardener for the last 55 years, she insisted that she take over the gardens around the Manor. Naturally, I agreed to her request, truly having no idea the beauty that would be ours 4 years from that day. Shirley had her first rose garden in 1948 in Portland, Oregon. A few years later she and her family moved to the Santa Ynez Valley, near Solvang, California to an 85-acre ranch. There she planted 300 rose bushes. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a Rose Society close enough for her to join, so she just kept mulching and gaining expertise on her own. In 1963 they relocated to Bellevue where she won her first trophy for her roses. Shirley continued to blossom everywhere she lived, from Eugene to Santa Barbara…planting her rose gardens for the enjoyment of those around her. When she made the decision to move back to the northwest, she had to lay the groundwork. Shirley called the president of the Portland Rose Society to see if he would donate some bushes to the Manor. He agreed to donate 25 bushes in 5-gallon containers. Shirley prepared and moved 15 bushes she had with her from Santa Barbara. She called Edmonds Roses in Wilsonville, Oregon and they gave her 20 bare-root roses. So with a station wagon full of flowers and a few on the moving truck, she came to Life Manor. The south gardens were prepared with a mix of TAGRO planting mix and alfalpha meal deposited into each 2’ x 2’ x 2’ hole. Shirley searched among the residents for other passionate gardeners. Kenny Snider and Barbara Murphy gladly signed on…watering, mulching and fertilizing. Shirley visited Life Center and asked to have the honor of tending to the rose garden that greets us at the church. Furthermore, Shirley joined the Tacoma Rose Society and they moved their meetings to the Life Manor Activity Room. The members even came out to do the pruning this winter when our residents were ill. What a blessing! Today, I will join our resident for lunch on our beautiful patio. The fragrance from those 60 rose bushes fills the air, their beauty reminding all of us how blessed we are to have Shirley—and the miracle of God-in nature. Article written by: Life Christian Church (next to Life Manor) Arrangements by Edwards Memorial Center 253-566-1008.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Shirley Patterson, please visit Tribute Store
A Memorial Tree was planted for Shirley
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Edwards Memorial | University Place
Share Your Memory of