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Pat Greathouse

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Pat Greathouse died surrounded by her family on May 19 at Kingston Residence Center in Santa Fe. She was born to Marie Franklin O'Donnell and William B. O'Donnell one frigid January in Oak Creek, Colorado, where her father was principal at Oak Creek High School. Pat's brother Charles was born two years later. The family soon moved to eastern New Mexico where Bill worked as an agriculture teacher and principal in Portales and later Raton. He and Marie were career educators. In 1939, Pat and her family moved to Las Cruces where Bill began his work at NMSU and Marie taught at Mesilla Elementary School; she lived there for over seventy years. Pat was a tomboy and an athlete, working as a lifeguard and teaching tennis and swimming lessons to earn extra money when she was young. In high school, Pat began work at Thomas Branigan Library under Miss Helen Caffey, who became her mentor and role model. She worked there through her college years, and was rarely happier than when she was among the stacks and helping people find books. Pat graduated from NMSU with a degree in biology in 1947. After graduating, Pat married Herbert Greathouse. He was the son of New Mexico homesteaders, a fellow NMSU graduate, and the veteran of five WWII European campaigns. They spent their honeymoon driving across the country to Quantico, Virginia so Herb could begin F.B.I. training. Herb's work with the Bureau took them to Chicago, Trenton, and finally to San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 1953, with the first two of four daughters in tow, he was able to secure a transfer back to Las Cruces. Pat loved music, studied violin and piano, and played in the NMSU orchestra. She enjoyed a wide range of music, from Big Band to Tchaikovsky and The Kingston Trio to Broadway. She sang along to them all and inspired her children to love music, too. She drove them untiringly to music lessons, even when that meant a round trip to El Paso on a weekly basis so that her daughters could have the best teachers. She bought instruments, shared her huge collection of 1940's sheet music, whistled and sang along with music on the television and radio, and attended concerts with great pride. Coming from a family of educators, Pat required a college education of her daughters and was a tremendous influence in their lives. Her daughter Susan Barrett teaches and works as a professional musician on both cello and piano, and played an ice cello at the Ice Hotel in Sweden among other musical honors. Her daughter Mary Beth Britton was named Teacher of the Year in New Mexico in 2012, and her daughter Patricia Greathouse was named one of the Ten Who Made a Difference by the Santa Fe New Mexican for her work with the Santa Fe Youth Symphony's Mozart y Mariachi program. The youngest daughter, Betty Lou Valdez, was competing at a world class level in Working Cow Horse and Heading and Heeling by the time she was 18. Her daughters will be forever grateful for the advantages they had from their mother's influence and support. Camping, fishing, and horses were an important part of Pat's life. Pat and Herb and their family enjoyed annual summer vacations packing into campsites in the New Mexico and Colorado wildernesses on horseback. They participated with devotion and enthusiasm in 4-H and all kinds of Quarter Horse activities with their daughters, displaying trophies and plaques until it seemed there was room for nothing else. Once all Pat's children were in school, she returned to work at Branigan Library in its original location downtown. For the next 26 years her community became the people she worked with and served. She became an invaluable asset to the library, doing graduate work in Library Science, helping in the planning of the modern new library, and serving on the library board until the last few years of her life. She was known by some as "The Nice Librarian" who carried the library cat around on her shoulders.. Before Pat retired, she was honored as Most Valuable Las Cruces city employee and as Librarian of the Year by the Border Regional Library Association. In 1977, with retirement on the horizon, Herb and Pat moved to Mesquite, N.M., where they began their small Quarter Horse breeding operation. For almost 30 years, they stood several stallions to stud and bred or raised several horses that earned AQHA Championships, World Show placings and countless state and regional awards. Pat loved raising the babies by hand, and worked as hard as Herb did to feed and care for the horses. Pat assumed responsibility for the naming of each colt, based on its character, and took this responsibility seriously. She frequently pegged colts with the names of her own grandchildren. When a colt was sold to new owners, her wish was that the name of that horse should remain the same when it moved to its new home, because that's the name it was used to. Pat often said that she preferred animals over people, and over the years she raised an ever-changing menagerie of her own and found homes for and spayed uncountable stray cats and dogs. No animal in need was ever passed up, and her heart and money went out to the many rescue organizations that promised to help. At the time of her death, her neighbors were still helping her feed an abandoned donkey and a lame Shetland pony on her property. She is also survived by her furry friends, Foxy, Poochie, Smudge, Maggie, and Baby, who have all found loving homes in the family. Pat and Herb opened their house to many younger relatives as they passed through New Mexico State University, including Ted and Annette Greathouse and William, Nancy, Nelson, James, and Richard Franklin. Herb and Pat also helped a younger generation of NMSU students, those who came to ride horses once the Greathouses moved to Mesquite. Pat continued to encourage people to use her stable long after her own horses were gone. All of the people that Pat and Herb befriended and helped as children and young adults remember with great fondness the welcome and support they found at the Greathouse home. Pat is predeceased by her husband of 57 years, Herb. She is survived by her daughters Patricia Greathouse (Christopher Barnes) of Pojoaque, N.M., Susan Barrett (Christopher) of Blacksburg, VA., Mary Beth Britton (William) of Pecos, N.M., and Betty Lou Valdez (Robert) of La Junta, CO., as well as her grandchildren Joshua Schriber, Emily Schriber (Ted Farnath), and Jasper Schriber (Lucy); Sophia Barrett-Musoke (Andrew) and Louisa Barrett; Marie Edd (Troy) and Andrea Britton and fiancé, Chris Whitlock; Matthew Little (Marie), Erin Little, and Kelly Valdez as well as seven great-grandchildren. Pat's brother Charles (deceased) and sister-in-law Louise O'Donnell and their children Sarah Chabot (Michael), Kathy Alba (Dan), and Mike (Samantha), Kenny, and Scott O'Donnell were very important to her. Herb's sisters Alice Hughes (Newt, both deceased) and Martha Lasater (Roger) and brother Ted Greathouse (Annette) and cousin Zan Schulz (Sue) held a special place in her heart. Pat is also survived by her very special friends Terry Johnston, Nina Cano, and Louise Forshaw. Mesquite became Pat's beloved neighborhood, and she was deeply involved with all the neighbors. George and Lourdes Chacon and their children George, Georgette, and Josh, looked out for her and helped her in numerous ways, particularly after Herb's death. Georgette served Mom as a loving and able attendant in her last years. The family is holding a memorial service in the Roadrunner Room at Branigan Memorial Library in Las Cruces on Saturday, July 19, at 3:00. In lieu of flowers, Pat would like those interested friends and family to make a donation to their favorite animal rescue organization, to the Friends of TBML, to the NMSU Library Science department, or the Herbert F. Greathouse Scholarship Fund at New Mexico State University.
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News from June 21 to June 22, 2014
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