Stopping to Chat
Patricia Fagan was a "classic gabber," said her sister, Eileen. She could not pick up dinner rolls at the store without striking up a conversation about the clerk's mother's arthritis. Or board the bus from Toms River to Lower Manhattan, where she was an insurance claims officer with Aon, without chatting with the drivers. Or check an insurance claim without finding out, for instance, about the weather or the claimant's children's schools.
As a result just about everybody in Toms River, where she grew up, knew her — the tall, exceptionally slender woman of 55 who had a word, or several, with everybody and never forgot a name. The official Saturday night greeter at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church. (A volunteer job, said Eileen Fagan, that fit her sister perfectly.) After her death, letters from numerous insurance clients began to arrive: "I never met Pat," they all wrote. "I only knew her from business calls. But I feel like we've been friends for years."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 21, 2001.
Patricia Fagan, 55, friends everywhere
Though she came from a small family, Pat Fagan treated everyone she met as if she'd known them all her life. And so when she died on Sept. 11, she left behind not only a beloved younger sister, Eileen, and father, Thomas, but a river of friends as well.
"Pat talked to everyone," said Eileen Fagan, "and she knew them all by name -- the bakery lady, the hairdresser, the saleswoman at Macy's, the girl in the jewelry store in the mall . . . and they've all called."
Patricia M. Fagan was 55 and lived in Lakewood for 20 years before moving to Toms River in 1992.
Born in Manhattan, she grew up in the Bronx, where she attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine High School. For the last 26 years she was employed as an insurance adjuster for Aon Corp. and worked on the 93rd floor of Two World Trade Center.
A devout Catholic, Ms. Fagan was a communicant of St. Joseph's in Toms River and was a member of the church's hospitality committee, serving as a greeter at the Saturday 5 p.m. Mass. She was also a former volunteer at Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood.
This summer had been an especially joyful one, said Ms. Fagan's sister.
"Our cousin's daughter got married on Pat's birthday in July," she said, "and in August another daughter had the first grandchild in the family. The baby was born on the Feast of the Assumption and my sister felt that meant he'd be especially blessed. It was such a happy event."
In addition to her sister, Eileen A., and father, Thomas J., both of Toms River, Patricia Fagan is survived by three cousins, Mary Walsh of Pine Brook, Jeanne Rogers of East Brunswick and Rev. Joseph Doyle, S.J. of Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla.
Relatives and friends will be received in the gathering space at St. Joseph R.C. Church, Toms River, on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon. A memorial Mass will be celebrated at noon.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Patricia M. Fagan Scholarship Fund, c/o St. Joseph's R.C. Church, 509 Hooper Ave., Toms River, N.J. 08753.
Profile by Amy Ellis Nutt published in THE STAR-LEDGER.