Shirley Patterson

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Shirley Louise Patterson

Shirley L. Patterson, Ph.D., age 84, beloved social work professor, teacher, and mentor, community organizer, activist, photographer, writer, and story teller in the tradition of her West Texas roots, was a force among us. Born July 22, 1933 in Rankin, TX, she passed away April 10, 2018 under the loving care of the Palliative Care team at Rust Medical Center, Albuquerque.

Shirley is survived by her committed partner of 43 years, Susan Cho; loyal cat, Cara Mia; brother, William Neil Patterson; nephew, William "Billy" Patterson and his wife Kelly all of Edmond, OK; and niece, Anna Linn Patterson of Orlando, FL. Also left behind are four great-nephews and many beloved cousins, friends and students.

Shirley is preceded in death by her father, William "Fush" Patterson and his wife Mary Patterson; mother, Mary Emma Cunningham Patterson Henley; half-sister, Emma Pat Henley Lowe; and beloved cats, Kitty, Purr, Smoko, Blue Mischief "Missy", Brown Nutmeg "Meggie", and Bello Mio. Her life was touched by many friends and mentors now also gone, including great-aunt Emma Wood Baker; Professor Esther E. Twente; social work theorist Carel B. Germain, Ph.D.; and uncle Paul Patterson, noted writer of Texas tales.

Dr. Patterson's life work was informed by her education at Fort Stockton, TX public schools; North Texas University; McCormick Theological Seminary, University of Kansas; and University of Wisconsin. Prior to joining the KU faculty she organized community projects for Third Presbyterian Church, Topeka, KS and participated in President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty by opening Crossroads Counseling Center that remains open today in Mission, KS.

Dr. Patterson taught in the graduate schools of Social Work at KU, N.M. Highlands, UNLV, and ASU. She specialized in Gerontology. When inspired by meeting Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Shirley developed then taught a much sought-after course in Death and Dying. Her career research focused on "natural helping", a term she created to represent the family, friends and neighbors who form the core helping networks in people's lives. Before leaving KU she co-edited with Ben Zimmerman a book, "Transitions" (1987) on the history of KU School of Social Welfare. Forever an activist Shirley presided for several years over the NOW chapter of the Sun Cities, AZ and organized several Women's History Month fundraisers including writing, directing and singing in "Voila La Femme â€" A Musical." After moving to La Vida Llena LifeCare Community in Albuquerque in 2005, Shirley organized "The Gathering of Women" which led to co-editing with Susan Cho two volumes of "Turning Points in Women's Lives" (2012, 2015).

A gathering to celebrate Dr. Patterson's life will be held on April 28, 2018, 4 pm at La Vida Llena. Memorial contributions may go to PB&J Family Services (505-944-7224) and Southwest Women's Law Center (505-244-0502).

Published in Albuquerque Journal on Apr. 22, 2018
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