Age 71 of Stillwater, Minnesota passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on Wednesday, October 4th, 2023.
He is preceded in death by his brother Jim and his parents. He will be sadly missed by his wife Deb; sons Grady and Colin (Erin); step-daughter Melissa (Drew); step-grandchildren Isaac and Jameson; two sisters; and many nieces, nephews, and friends.
Pat was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota, the third of four children. He was a creative and active child, attending grade school at Holy Rosary and high school at Cathedral (class of 1971) in Duluth. His younger sister, Anne, was only 10 months his junior and the two were in the same grade growing up. The two were a dynamic duo; Pat giving Anne all the tips about the boys and Anne returning the favor about the girls. Pat was also Anne’s protector, “Everyone should have a Pat,” Anne remembers. The family spent the summers in Solon Springs, Wisconsin; running free all day, Pat fostered his love for mischief early, making small explosives with his older sister, Mary. His teenage antics were legendary, full of hilarious misadventures and daredevil tendences.
Pat obtained his Bachelor of Arts from Saint John’s University in 1975. He obtained his Juris Doctor from William Mitchelle College of Law and was admitted to the Minnesota State Bar in 1980. His legal practice centered around supporting vulnerable populations. Pat started his career as a public defender in St. Paul, later serving as a prosecutor in Washington County, Minnesota, a guardian ad litem, and a program manager at the Minnesota Department of Corrections. He was extremely intelligent, but his superpower was his deep care for people. His legal practice reflected the convergence of his skills and his personal commitment to helping individuals regardless of their circumstances. In all parts of Pat’s life, he helped people feel genuinely seen and understood. His compassion was always sincere.
Pat deeply loved his family and friends. He was devoted to his sons, Grady and Colin, supporting them through their own life journeys. He passed on his fearlessness by making potato cannons, building jumps for the boys’ bikes, and rallying four-wheelers. The common refrain of “more power!” could be heard after jerry-rigging their latest motorized contraption from their home in Hudson, Wisconsin. Days together were spent outside, swimming, fishing, catching creatures and adding to rock collections. As adults, Pat’s adoration of Grady and Colin was constant, cheering on their new endeavors with unwavering pride.
Pat’s personality was unmatched, filled with empathy and joy. That joy grew when Pat found an adventure partner in Deb. The two spent over 20 years together, marrying in November 2018. From their home in Stillwater, Minnesota, they enjoyed trips up the North Shore, camping across the United States, riding their motorcycle, and attending music festivals. Pat expanded Deb’s horizons, and Deb kept Pat out of trouble (most of the time). Pat was Deb’s rock and great friend. They built a life around their blended families with patience and deep commitment to each other’s happiness.
Pat loved speed of any variety, but he found most of it motorcycling, alpine skiing, and cruising the St. Croix River by boat. Pat did not hold back, with each new hobby came a full commitment, complemented by the most high-tech gear and specialized gadgets he could find. Pat and Deb proudly served on the National Ski Patrol at Afton Alps for many years. Pat shared his love of skiing with family and friends, teaching his boys to ski, and trips out West.
Pat found solace on his path towards recovery with the 12-Step program, and its teaching remained important to him throughout his life, guiding his principled gratitude and continued acceptance of change. Pat was deeply spiritual. This carried over to his brave navigation of Multiple System Atrophy (Cerebellar Ataxia) disorder, accepting the neurodegenerative changes with determination and without losing his sense of humor. As his MSA progressed, Pat still found joy. Colin would Facetime with Pat while Colin hiked mountains in Colorado and Alaska to show Pat the glorious views. Grady and Pat chatted all things motor sports most days of the week and continued to fish together when they could. Pat and his stepdaughter, Melissa, had developed a close bond fueled by their mutual affinity for speed and four-wheelers, and they continued to share their love of thunderstorms and ice cream birthday parties. Deb was his constant companion and unwavering caregiver, showing their devotion and love to each other was never hindered by hardship, only strengthened.
Pat passed away peacefully surrounded by family to the sounds of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” After his passing, his family honored his memory by lighting off fireworks, a celebration of life lived to the fullest; never dull, always full of spark, and perhaps slightly too loud for the given circumstances. He is remembered for the depth of his love, his great humor, and his adventurous spirit.
A celebration of life will take place at Bradshaw Funeral Home, 2800 Curve Crest Blvd on Thursday, October 12 at 11:15 AM, with a visitation beginning at 10:00 AM. A lunch will be served from 12 PM - 1 PM following the service.
In lieu of flowers, please direct charitable donations to the National Ataxia Foundation or Planting A Tree.