By trade, this West Linn Adult Community Center (WLACC) member was Gal Friday extraordinaire, but at heart, 81-year-old Patti Pavlosky says her "greatest jobs were that of wife and mother."
Patti was 19 when she met Joseph, the man she would marry. Her daddy had six daughters and a reputation for being notoriously overprotective. But Joe had often seen Patti waiting for the trolley, and one day he offered her and her sisters a ride home. Her heart was his. At 20, she married him. They had four children, six grandchildren and (soon-to-be) six great-grandchildren. Their secret?
"We never went to bed angry, always kissed goodbye (even if it was just a trip to the store)," Patti said. And she recalls that while living in Arizona, "We said our prayers together each night on the porch."
Born in Johnstown, Penn., Patti grew up in a three-generation household. One of her strongest memories is of her mother singing the popular Johnny Mercer lyrics, "You've got to accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative; latch on to the affirmative; and don't mess with Mr. In-Between!"
Another powerful memory she treasures, from age 9, is the summer of 1945 when World War II ended. She remembers the church bells all chiming and the whistles blowing at the mill as people rejoiced.
Growing up in that Johnstown neighborhood filled with Russian, Slovak, Hungarian and German families, her grandmother used to tell her "Don't ever think you're better than anyone else, and always remember nobody's better than you! You should be able to sit with beggars and kings."
Patti grew up eating traditional Slovak foods (think pierogi and stuffed cabbage). She lovingly remembers her family's home being "the one where everyone hung out and wanted to be." She remembers playing red rover and hopscotch outdoors. She played saxophone in band, learned tap dancing and baton twirling, and even learned to shoot a Savage .22-caliber long rifle.
Patti's youth was the blueprint for her own family's life. Joe was in catering and food services, and their house had a pizza oven. She and Joe opened their home and their lives to others, and kids always hung out at their house or the summer homes they'd rent on the Delaware beach. While living on the East Coast, she and Joe saw all the big Broadway shows and the family took in the history of the country and its battles.
After her kids began school, Patti worked outside the home, in retail sales and administrative work in insurance, cosmetology and commercial leasing. Patti is quick to point out her life wasn't all roses. In 1977, they lost both their home and business in the devastating Johnstown Flood, which took 84 lives. Much later, having rebuilt their lives in Arizona, Patti would see Joe through cancer and quintuple bypass surgery.
Patti has traveled to Canada, Japan, Mexico and Italy. During Patti's trip to Italy with her church choir, they had a private audience with Pope John Paul II, and were the honor choir singing in St. Peter's Cathedral, the tombs at Saint Francis de Assisi and the Milan convent where Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" resides.
In Arizona, Patti worked for a CPA, a commercial appraiser and then a mortgage broker. When the receptionist job opened at a private college, Patti, then 73, sent a personal letter to the college president. Her poise and experience got her the job.
She told the president, "I'm 73 now, so I'll work for you for another 20 years, but then at 93, I'm going to look for another job!"
After Joe died, Patti's daughter convinced her to join her family in West Linn. The private college was closing, so Patti worked on the final day and then the moving truck left. Her daughter had her signed up as a member of the center before she'd even arrived in West Linn. Today, she's a Share Singer, and enjoys her new friends and many activities at the WLACC.
The lunch menu this week includes shrimp scampi Friday, June 30; chicken satay, Persian rice, broccoli and vanilla cake on Monday, July 7; and Birthday Brunch with crustless quiches, bacon, Yukon gold potatoes and fruit salad on Wednesday, July 5. The center will be closed the Fourth of July.
The center is located at 1180 Rosemont Road in West Linn. Call 503-557-4704 for more information.
Patti McCoy is a member and volunteer at the West Linn Adult Community Center.