Patricia Holden (December 28, 1924 - July 28, 2014)

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A glimmering fern in her bright-blue forest peacefully returned her energy July 28, 2014.

Patricia was born to Dale W. Holden and Vella Veya Terry on December 28, 1924, in Portland Oregon. A portion of her childhood was spent in Coos Bay, Oregon, where the awe of the ocean never left her side.

After moving to a family farm near La Center, Washington, Life magazine published an article about her capabilities on November 23, 1942.

Her stepfather, Hank Altree, was required to move to Portland for the war. So Patsy took over the 70-acre farm — at age 17, while attending high school — including tending oats, alfalfa and corn along with plowing fields and milking 32 cows twice daily.

From this point forward, she would consistently challenge the conventional notion of what a woman should be or could do. She won the FFA plowing contest against six boys that year.

Patricia received a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Washington State University in 1947, an education credential from Whitworth College in 1962 and a master's degree in biology from Fort Wright College in 1968.

She married Don Freeman soon after graduating from college, where they raised three daughters on a spectacular farm in Spokane, Washington: Donna Joann, Diana Lynn and Debra Colleen. Memories of this farm permeate all generations who were blessed to know it.

A teacher forever, sharing her knowledge was both what she loved and what drew others to her. That goal was realized in 1963 when she began teaching physical science, biology, horticulture and coaching the girls cross-country team at Ferris High School until her retirement in 1983.

She was highly respected by administrators, fellow teachers and students alike.

Like her mother, Patsy always had a desire to travel, and in 1986 at the age of 62, she joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Lesotho, Africa, working with the farmers' training center and agriculture college.

These two years were the happiest times in her life. She met many like-minded people, some still friends today. She loved reading and writing, and we are fortunate to have many of her journals dedicated to her experiences in Lesotho.

Upon Patricia's return, she moved to Sequim, where she continued her passion of gardening; volunteered as a docent at the Dungeness Spit and Feiro Marine Life Center; became a member of the National Audubon, Rhododendron, Native Plant Society and The Nature Conservancy; and volunteered at the Dungeness River Audubon Center, molding their landscape.

In 1991, she designed and built the "cabin" of her dreams, which reflects the special person she was.

Pat's garden was her true joy and has become a peaceful refuge to her family and friends. Immense windows often allowed for conversations to be joyfully interrupted as birds would come and go.

It is obvious experiencing this paradise that Grandma built a sanctuary for friends, for family and, almost more importantly, for birds. As her ability to garden diminished with age, the golf channel allowed entertainment and opportunity to enjoy the tranquility of her creation beyond those glass portals.

No longer having her own sailboat, thus unable to navigate waters she so deeply loved, Pat jumped at the opportunity to crew as cook with the Adventuress schooner out of Port Townsend in the 1990s. She was in her 70s when these two "voyages" occurred.

Pat's family and friends loved and admired her for her spunk, independence, creativity, determination, intellect, fun-loving spirit and fierce environmental and political beliefs, knowing she always spoke her mind: "I do not suffer fools lightly."

Her strong need for independence and living her life as she wanted was ever present, right up to the very end. Our love, admiration and respect for her were made stronger because of this.

Her unconditional love for her three daughters and sons-in-law and four grandchildren was immense and unwavering. Patricia was the family's "matriarch," having a huge influence in all their lives.

She had a very close cadre of friends, all being conscience of the wonderfully special person she was. Their consistent support in her struggling months inspired and comforted her immensely.

She is survived by her daughters Donna (Paul) Soderberg of Hillsboro, Oregon, and Diana (Kenneth) Manville of Spokane; and her grandchildren, Christopher Soderberg, David Soderberg and Sarah (Graydon) Davis.

Patricia is preceded in death by her daughter Debra, grandson Matthew Manville and ex-husband Don Freeman.

In lieu of flowers, please donate, if desired, to the Dungeness River Audubon Society, http://tinyurl.com/donatedrac, or the Matthew Manville Memorial Scholarship Fund at Eastern Washington University, http://tinyurl.com/donatemanville.

Pat Holden encouraged us all to be a skeptic.
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Aug. 17, 2014
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