North Stonington - Patricia "Pat" Fern Donovan, 90, of North Stonington, passed away on Nov. 19, 2012, peacefully in her home while she slept.
A service for Pat will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, at the United Congregational Church, 9 Castle Hill Road, Pawcatuck, by Pastor Ruth Hainsworth, followed by a luncheon at 11 a.m. Internment with full military honors will be at River Bend Cemetery, Westerly, during a private family gathering.
Pat was born in Rainy River, Ontario, Canada, to Theodore and Myrtle Sandmoen on July 22, 1922.
She was predeceased by her sister, Teddy-Ann Biggio of Oak Park, Ill.
Pat studied piano and voice under a program directed by the Royal School of Music, London, England, and after examinations taught piano at the Lombardi Conservatory of Music in Hibbing, Minn. Pat became an American citizen on Oct. 7, 1943, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a WAVE. Her musical abilities earned her a spot in the Navy's singing group, the "Gobs of Melody", which toured 13 midwestern states for a year recruiting young women for the war effort. The group consisted of four WAVES, four sailors, and a Navy swing band that performed in person and on the radio.
Pat's most momentous experience while in the military was as the guest of her good friend, Genevieve Sullivan, when they attended the premier of the movie "Sullivans" (renamed the "The Fighting Sullivans"). Genevieve Sullivan's five brothers perished together when their warship was sunk near the beginning of the war. Pat ended her military service at the Naval Air Station, Ottumwa, Iowa, where she met and married Ensign Howard Louis Donovan, a navigation instructor.
Pat and Howard founded the "Double D Farm" in East Longmeadow, Mass., where they raised purebred Brown Swiss dairy cattle and Corriedale sheep as well as the normal assortment of smaller animals. The majority of their children were active in the local 4-H clubs, attending six to eight fairs each summer with Dairy, Beef, and Sheep Showmanship and Breed classes. One of Pat's accomplishments was selecting the sheep breeding lines that won "Best Fleece in the Pioneer Valley" for many years running. Few family members can remember tasting meat and produce in their adult lives that compared to the farm raised fare to which they were accustomed. The family moved to Pawcatuck in 1970, where they purchased and operated the Morgan Inn for many years.
Pat is survived by her nine children, Timothy and Gary of Connecticut, Patricia Hunter of California, Christopher of Ohio, Terrance, Kathryn, John, Janice Larson, and Elizabeth Fague, all of Connecticut; 12 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and nieces, nephews, and many friends.
Pat was a life member of the WAVES National and was active in the United Congregational Church in Pawcatuck, where she chaired several committees and often played music for church functions. Membership in the church allowed her to truly be herself for the first time in her life, not as a mother or a wife, but as an individual who wished the best for all the souls she encountered. All her children are pleased that Mom had that opportunity to spend her twilight years in the company of good friends.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to Pastor Ruth Hainsworth, United Congregational Church, 9 Castle Hill Road, Pawcatuck, CT 06379, Hospice Southeastern Connecticut, 227 Dunham St., Norwich, CT 06360, or the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center, 27 Chase St., Pawcatuck, CT 06379.
Published in The Day on Nov. 29, 2012