Patricia Anne May Barger, 81, died at Aegis of Queen Anne Assisted Living, Seattle, WA on February 25, 2017, after a period of declining health.
Pat was born on August 13, 1935, the oldest of Beatrice (Brown) and Ralph May’s three children and Pat took her responsibilities as a big sister seriously throughout her life. Living in various parts of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Pat’s parents ultimately settled in Barton where Pat was surrounded by extended family on Telfer Hill. Her delight in candied ginger came from spending time with her Grandmother May and sneaking pieces of this special treat from her grandmother’s apron pocket as a little girl.
Pat graduated from Barton Academy 1953 and proudly attended the Alumni Banquet and Reunion annually until 2016. The first woman in her family to attend college, Pat graduated Phi Beta Kappa from The University of Vermont in 1957 with a degree in psychology. She continued her education at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL where she received a masters and then a PhD in Clinical Psychology.
Shortly after arriving in Chicago, Pat was invited to dinner by an older second cousin, Bion Barger, who had heard from family that his “little country cousin” was coming to town to study. The country cousin had a big impact on the city boy and the two married in 1958. Their lifetime partnership of mutual support, challenge, and adoration continued for more than 55 years until Bion’s death in 2014 at age 90.
Pat’s early career in psychology included a position as a staff psychologist at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and adjunct professor of pediatrics at Northwestern Medical School. In 1965, Pat became an assistant professor of psychology at Loyola University, Chicago, as well as supervisor of Loyola’s Child Guidance Center, eventually becoming the Center’s director.
In 1975, Pat left academics for a position in the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. Over time, she became Associate Director for Mental Illnesses and then, the Regional Administrator for the Chicago metropolitan area managing a multi-million dollar budget that funded mental health care for more than 7 million people in the area.
After her retirement in 1987, Pat and Bion relocated to Seattle, WA and settled in the Queen Anne neighborhood. All who visited them at their home there were treated to a lovely view of the Space Needle with occasional glimpses of Mount Rainier. The move to Seattle allowed Pat and Bion to see much more of the extended Barger family and Pat delighted in hosting family occasions on a regular basis, including poker night and fireworks viewing on the 4th of July.
The move to Seattle also signaled the beginning of Pat’s next career as a community volunteer. Pat began an association with the Queen Anne Community Center and Aquatics Program shortly after relocating, joining classes at the pool. The “pool ladies,” as they were known, welcomed Pat into their circle and became a tight knit group of friends in which Pat had her first experiences of being a little sister, as most of her dearest friends were older. Pat’s “Spicy Clam Chowder” became a pool potluck favorite.
Over the course of the next 25 years, Pat was involved with the Community Center on an almost daily basis. She spent her weeks attending or leading many activities, including exercise classes at weight room and pool, Monday senior lunches, Tai Chi, and “Crafty Ladies,” a Thursday afternoon group which donated the efforts of their needlework to various city organizations. Pat served as President of the Advisory Council for Queen Anne Community Center and viewed the center as an essential part of the physical and emotional wellbeing of the greater community, especially for seniors. Pat was recognized in 2013 with the Fabiola Woods Inspirational Award for outstanding community service and was deeply honored and surprised by this attention. During her years of involvement with the community center, Pat was also famous for roping other people into her many activities and endeavors, most of whom would admit that they were better for it.
After a hospitalization in September of 2016, Pat moved into the Aegis Assisted Living Community of Queen Anne where she enjoyed several months of activities, socializing, and the opportunity to have red wine with dinner. This caring community brought a sense of involvement and connection to the last several months of Pat’s life.
In the last years of her life, Pat was cared for with great compassion and dignity by her loved ones, Caroline Chan, Erin Gray and Vistie and Randy Love. Pat is survived by her siblings Pricilla and Walter Armstrong of Barton, VT, William and Susan May of Barton, VT and her brothers-in-law William Barger of Bellevue, WA and Robert Barger of Buckley, WA. Pat also leaves her “surrogate daughters” Caroline Chan and Erin Gray of Seattle, WA, niece and nephew Vistie and Randy Love of Renton, WA, and niece Alyssa May of East Burke, VT, in addition to 9 other dear nieces and nephews and their families, in whom she delighted. Pat and Bion had beloved friends, neighbors, and colleagues across the United States and valued these relationships deeply. Those of us who loved Pat knew her as an avid storyteller, a keeper of family lore, a lover of cooking and entertaining, and a committed Seattle Storm fan. There are many places and people who will feel her absence in the days to come. We know with confidence that she would tell all who remain to “Have a Lovely!”
A memorial for Pat will be held in Seattle at the Queen Anne Community Center on Saturday, March 25 at 3:30pm. Loved ones and friends are warmly invited to attend. A remembrance will also be held in Vermont over the summer at the convenience of the family. Should friends desire, Donations in Pat’s memory can be sent to Caroline Chan, C/O Queen Anne Community Center, 1901 1st Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119. Checks are made payable to “Queen Anne Community Center” with memo line note ‘Pat Barger Memorial Fund’. Arrangements handled by Butterworth Funeral Home of Seattle with online condolences at their website.