Patricia S. Wilmeth

Wilmeth, Patricia S. Pat Wilmeth, age 89 and living fully and intentionally in her 90th year, passed peacefully on Thursday afternoon, February 28, 2013. Pat was a much loved mother, grandmother, friend, mentor, teacher, and a role model for women and for giving generously to all the causes she treasured. Patricia Ann Smith was born on December 23, 1923, to Helen and Hulbert Smith in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pat's birth story is that her father was so smitten with his new little girl, an only child born after 16 years of marriage, that every time he returned to the hospital he brought a bigger diamond for her mother's ring. Our mother sparkled with this love and light throughout her life. Pat graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and credited her Smith years with opening her mind to the world of ideas and the world of meaningful work. She started graduate school in social work at UCLA in 1945, and completed her masters degree in Ed Psych and Rehab Counseling at UWM in 1975. Pat and Harvey were married in 1947 and celebrated their 60th Anniversary in 2007. Our mother believed in and supported projects to preserve and protect the treasures of nature: in the Milwaukee area, Harvey's Woods in the Mequon Nature Preserve, Donges Bay Gorge, Wilmeth Way Trail in the Highland Woods, and the Courtyard at Newcastle Place; on Sanibel Island, The Dayton Preserve, Sandy's Walk, and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation; and in Madison, the Jenni and Kyle Preserve. She valued education and gave scholarships to women who wanted to return to college, and was an active giver through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. Pat's work career was unique. She was a volunteer case worker with the Milwaukee Dept of Child Welfare in the 1950's, doing adoptive studies and placements, and working with unmarried mothers. In the 60's, she was a case worker with families of nursery school children and with homebound Golden Agers at Neighborhood House in the city of Milwaukee. She was a coordinator at The Ranch. In the 1970's, she supervised students at the UWM Dept of Ed Psych and Rehab Counseling in their field work program and she taught the course Theories of Counseling. She also counseled teens at St. Michael's. Pat served on the Board of Directors of so many groups, typically including a stint as president. This began in the 1960's and continued throughout Pat's life. These included: Children's Service Society; The Milwaukee Mental Health Association; Whitefish Bay Garden Club (also a founding member); Garden Therapy in the Wisconsin Federation of Garden Clubs; Milwaukee Audubon Society; The Milwaukee Protestant Home and the Bradford Terrace Board; The Counseling Center of Milwaukee; the Park People (Milwaukee County Parks) and Mitchell Park Domes (Domes Dames); Today's Girls Tomorrow's Women; North Shore Branch of the American Association of University Women along with participating in the writing of the AAUW book, Wisconsin Women; the HER scholarship committee in the UWM Women's Fund; and the Ozaukee Washington County Land Trust. Pat delighted in her hands-on time with Milwaukee Public schools, tutoring 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders over the past 21 years. For 15 years, she led a weekly "Edge of the Sea" class for 3 Milwaukee schools. At the end of the class, a child could have the 3 shells that they had identified. If they wrote an essay after the class, then they could choose a large shell or other sea treasure when she returned the following week! In recent years, she tutored at Silver Spring school. Pat loved collecting shells on Sanibel Island, Florida for her school children, herself, and others. Pat and Harvey started going to Sanibel in 1950 and thoroughly enjoyed their days there. Pat strolled the beach searching for treasures, while Harvey, inside, reviewed and analyzed the stock market. Pat was preceded in death by her husband, Harvey Delbert Wilmeth, in 2007. Pat was also preceded in death by her daughter Sandy (Ann Hastings Wilmeth), and by her grandchildren, Jennifer Leana Geurkink and Kyle Wilmeth Geurkink. Jenni and Kyle each lived to be almost four and their "Bama" was a big presence in their lives, as she was in the lives of all of her grandchildren. Pat is survived by her daughters, Kim Wilmeth Miller (Steph) and Sally (Alison Smith Wilmeth) (Terry Geurkink). She is survived by Kim and Steph's children, Kate Marin March (Alex), Benjamin Croft Miller, and Jackson Smith Miller. She is further survived by Sally and Terry's children: Chelsey Belensmith Geurkink, Timothy Wilmeth Geurkink and Nina Patricia Tipton (Rob); along with Nina's children Graham Harvey and Carter John Tipton. Pat had a probing mind and always had a favorite question to ask of others. This year's question was " What would you like to do that is humanly impossible?" Last year's was "What is the wildest thing you ever did?" There was also "What do you do when you are not working here?" And she wouldn't stop until you gave a sufficient answer... Special thank you's to all who assisted Pat in recent years, especially Dr Joe Nand and the nursing staff of the clinical cancer center at Oz, her personal physician Dr. Scott Jorgensen, Horizon Hospice, and Patricia, Gary, and all during her and Harvey's years living at Newcastle Place. We are so very grateful to all of Pat's special friends. Pat's Memorial Service will be at 2 PM, Friday, March 8, at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, 7845 N. River Road, River Hills, WI. Transportation will be arranged for Pat's Newcastle friends. Friends may greet the family from 12:30PM to 1:45PM prior to the service. A reception will be held at the church immediately following the service. Private burial at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana will take place on Saturday. Memorials are preferred to Mequon Nature Preserve, 8200 W. County Line Rd., Mequon, WI 53097; The HER Scholarship Fund at the UWM Women's Fund of Greater Milwaukee, 316 N. Milwaukee St., Suite 215, Milwaukee, WI 53202; or to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, 200 Wisconsin St., West Bend, WI 53095.

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Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Mar. 3, 2013