Patricia Harte Durgin passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family, on November 18, 2015. She was born Patricia Helen Harte on March 9, 1934 in Addison, Vermont to parents Helen Cawley Harte and Patrick Francis Harte. She was the oldest of six girls (Patricia, Helen, Catherine, Marie, Frances and Elizabeth) who grew up on a dairy farm in Northern Vermont overlooking Lake Champlain. Her support of farmers continued for a lifetime and she lived the 'buy local' concept by shopping for produce on Saturday mornings at the Regional Farmers Market in Syracuse for many decades. Patricia attended Mount Saint Mary Academy High School in Burlington, Vermont and graduated at age 16. She enrolled in Trinity College, also in Burlington where she received a Bachelors' Degree in Chemistry. While attending college she worked at the newspaper The Burlington Free Press where she was a type-setter. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the biochemistry laboratory at University of Vermont School of Medicine where she met her future husband who was a student at the time. Patricia Harte and Frank Durgin were married on June 15, 1957 in Burlington, Vermont. In 1958 they relocated to Syracuse where Frank began his internship and residency. Patricia taught high school chemistry for many years in the Syracuse School District. Her two daughters, Ann Patricia and Mary Virginia were born in 1961 and 1965. While her children were young she returned to night school and earned a Masters' Degree in Counseling from Syracuse University. When her children were in elementary school she returned to work with a career that culminated in being the Career and Transfer Counselor for Cazenovia College for many decades.
Patricia lived a life of social activism and was devoted to the Syracuse Peace Council, Peace Action, the National Organization of Women and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She served as president of both the Syracuse Peace Council and the Central New York Chapter of NOW several times. She liked to joke that her children grew up on a picket line. She supported her daughters in their career paths. Ann had a 29-year federal career, retiring from the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014. Mary continues to practice medicine in Delaware.
Patricia is fondly remembered for her love of family, and the many happy traditions she created with her daughters. She organized neighborhood Halloween parties every year, made home-made Christmas ornaments with her daughters and friends, had Easter egg hunts in the back yard and made a yearly trip to Suburban Amusement park at the end of each school year. Patricia loved to travel to Cape Cod and Sanibel Island, Florida and often invited friends of her daughters to travel with them as well. She enjoyed traveling to New York City with friends to see Broadway shows as much as she enjoyed camping in the Adirondacks with a tent full of kids. She lived the motto "the more the merrier" and always included everyone in her fun plans. Later in life she enjoyed playing bridge, reading on her back deck, gardening, going to lecture series, concerts and to Syracuse Stage. She adored her five grandchildren and several times moved in with each of her daughters to care for a newborn grandchild for several months at a time. She loved to sit for hours at a time with a sleeping baby in her arms. Her grandchildren knew her as Oma, a name synonymous with love, hugs, card games and a full cookie jar.
Patricia is survived by her husband of 58 years, Francis J. Durgin, M.D., her daughter Ann Patricia Reese of Alexandria, Virginia and her daughter Mary Virginia Iacocca of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Her sisters Catherine Harte O'Grady of Falls Church, Virginia and Elizabeth Harte of Salt Lake City, Utah and many nieces and nephews. Her beloved grandchildren Robert Paul Reese and Patricia Harte Reese of Alexandria, Virginia and Michael Albert Iacocca, Anna Katalin Iacocca and Patrick Francis Iacocca of Kennett Square, Virginia.
Visiting hours for family and friends will be held on Tuesday, November 24 from 10:00 to 11:30 at Burns Garfield "A Life Celebration Home" 3175 East Genesee St., Syracuse. A memorial service will follow immediately at 11:30, following the service a light lunch will be served at the Great Room of Central New York. Donations made be made in Patricia Durgin's name to Holy Cross Church, 4112 East Genesee Street, DeWitt, NY 446-0473 or "online giving" at hollycrossdewitt.org.