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Patricia C. Arrowood


1948 - 2019
Patricia C. Arrowood Obituary
Patricia C. Arrowood

Las Cruces - PATRICIA CATES ARROWOOD grew up in the historic little town of Hillsborough, North Carolina, which was established in 1754 where the "Great Indian Trading Path" crossed the Eno River. As a girl, she loved sitting with her father on the steps of their home in the evenings. When the owls began to call from the trees, her father, Clarence Scott Cates, would mimic the call, and the owls would reply. Later, she often walked in the woods and pastures along the river with her dogs, and as a young woman she rode her horse there. She and her beloved horse, "Sudden Storm" (a.k.a. "Sam"), entered competitions and won ribbons for English equitation and jumping. In high school, she was active in social activities, played on the basketball team, and studied piano whenever she could not escape to the horse barn. She never lost her affection for the natural world and the other creatures who live here with us.

She attended a Science Evening Seminar series put on for high school students by Duke University and the National Science Foundation. There she met a young man who was also fascinated by the natural world and its birds and other animals (and rocks, too!), Roy Arrowood. He and Patricia dated for three years and then married in 1969, while they were college students.

She had a loving lifelong relationship with her mother, Iris Walker Cates. Iris taught high school business courses for many years, and she encouraged Patricia to pursue higher education and a professional career. Patricia earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from North Carolina State University. In one research project, she taught goldfish to jump over a hurdle whenever a light was turned on. She studied the effect of water temperature on how quickly the fish learned. Her admiration of birds grew as she took an ornithology class with field trips to observe birds in the Piedmont and the coast. Especially interested in animal behavior and communication, Patricia next earned an M.S. degree in Psychology. Her work on chicks and ducklings with Dr. Gilbert Gottlieb helped show the importance of pre-hatching auditory experiences. Ducklings are learning their parents' voices while still in the egg. They are also vocalizing, and hearing others. The prenatal chatting helps synchronize the embryos so that they all hatch at about the same time.

Like many other two-career couples, Patricia and Roy sometimes had trouble finding a place to live where both of them could thrive. A couple of years after graduation, they packed up Sudden Storm and their growing collection of books and moved westward. At the time, the University of California at Davis was one of the few places in the country where Patricia could study with some of the best animal behavior and ecology professors in the world and Roy could do graduate work with outstanding faculty in geology and materials science. With Dr. Don Owings as her research advisor, Patricia studied communication and social behavior of a South American parakeet species, Brotogeris versicolouris, by observing a captive colony of the birds in a large flight cage on campus and others in a feral flock in San Francisco.

After graduation, Patricia and Roy moved to San Antonio, Texas, and then to Irvine, California. She continued her research on the parakeets. She also worked with Dr. George Hunt to study seabird behavioral ecology. She spent a summer on the uninhabited Santa Barbara Island, banding and observing sea gulls in "clubs", where the birds idled through the hours waiting for low tide when they could dine on tasty shoreline critters.

In 1989, they moved to Las Cruces. Patricia became an adjunct faculty member in Biology at NMSU, and Roy became a faculty member at UTEP. Patricia taught courses and labs at Dona Ana Community College and at NMSU. She also supervised NMSU students while studying parakeets, burrowing owls, cactus wrens, and other birds. In summers, Patricia worked with and hosted Dr. Owings and a group of researchers who came to Las Cruces to investigate predator-prey interactions between snakes and rock squirrels. It turns out that the squirrels will drive away rattlesnakes, and sometimes even kill them.

Unfortunately, Patricia was a careful and courteous driver in a world full of the distracted and the reckless. Three times during her life, her car was struck from behind as she waited for oncoming traffic to pass so that she could make a left turn. The final accident was on the NMSU campus in 2002, when a young man driving 45 mph in the 15 mph campus was too busy talking with a passenger to see Patricia's left turn signal. He did not apply his brakes at all as he plowed into Patricia's jeep. After this, Patricia suffered severe and ever-worsening neck and back pain and sciatica, which became the overwhelming factor in the rest of her life. To make matters much worse, she began to suffer dementia (Alzheimer's disease) in 2013. However, she continued to show her optimistic spirit. She loved walks in the desert and mountains with Roy, but as the years passed the pain made long walks unbearable. She still went with him to stores and restaurants, where she made friends quickly. However, the spinal pain increased and her memory and brain function diminished so that she needed round-the-clock nursing care in early 2019. After that, she lived in the memory care unit at the Village at Northrise, Desert Willow II, where she received excellent and compassionate care until her death on November 24th. She is survived by her husband, Roy, and her brother, C. Scott Cates Jr., who lives in North Carolina.

Patricia directed that her remains be cremated. At her request, no memorial service is planned. To those who might wish to honor her, an appropriate gesture would be a donation or volunteer assistance to the .

Cremation has been entrusted to the care of Baca's Funeral Chapels, of Las Cruces and Sunset Crematory, 300 E. Boutz Road, 527-2222 Your exclusive providers for "Veterans and Family Memorial Care." For online condolences logon to www.bacasfuneralchapelslascruces.com
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News from Dec. 2 to Dec. 8, 2019
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