Patricia Kelly Waelder, 92, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her family. Patricia was born on May 5, 1928, in Rochester, New York to Charles and Monica (Johnston) Kelly and moved to New York City, where she grew up. She married William Charles Waelder in 1950. Pat and Bill moved to the Valley section of Syracuse in 1957, where they raised nine children.
Patricia graduated from Cathedral High School in Manhattan and from Fordham University in 1949. Pat then received a Masters in Education from Syracuse University in 1974. She continued her education at S.U. and completed all coursework for a Ph.D. in Reading and English. Pat received a Developmental Specialist Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from The Kellogg Institute, Appalachian State University, NC.
Patricia began her career as an educator in the parochial schools K-8 of the Diocese of Syracuse. She later transitioned to teaching in the Syracuse City Adult Education Program and also taught courses at University College. At the same time she authored three books for Laubach Literacy's New Readers' Press and was editor for News For You, a newspaper for new adult readers. In 1975, Pat accepted a position in the English Department at Onondaga Community College. She was a professor of English and Reading, who founded and coordinated The Teaching Center, a faculty development resource. She retired as Acting Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in 1997.
Patricia was a strong advocate for the city of Syracuse. Pat was elected to the Syracuse Board of Education in 1993, was vice-president in 1994 and president in 1995. Pat was elected to the office of City of Syracuse, Councilor - 3rd district in 2003 by the greatest number of votes cast in the general election that year.
Patricia was active in the community supporting social justice issues and civil rights. Pat and her husband Bill were among the founders of Unity Kitchen and Unity Acres supporting Father Ray McVey in his mission to care for homeless men. She had a special focus on the public education system as it contributes to the quality of social and economic life in Syracuse and worked with Parents for Public Schools. Pat was equally passionate about peace and supported the Peace Action of Central New York. She also supported organizations that worked towards the benefit of all including the Food Bank of Central New York, Doctors Without Borders and the KIND Fund.
Patricia was an early and enthusiastic participant and supporter of the arts. She was a founding member of the Syracuse Symphony, Syracuse Stage and Syracuse Opera. Pat was an eager traveler and lifelong learner, studying Gaelic in her eighties. She embraced travel and considered it an expansive experience enriching one's life. She appreciated the history and diversity of other cultures. In her last year she continued to read books of wide-ranging subjects and enjoyed listening to her favorite podcasts— especially The History of English.
Patricia was predeceased by her husband William C., sons Mark J. and William P., son-in-law Charles Haines, daughter-in-law Joan Banks; also by her sisters Kathleen Kelly, Mary Barbara Fotusky; brother Charles Kelly and brother-in-law James Flanigan. She is survived by her children and their spouses Karen Waelder, Eric and Phyllis Waelder, Kathleen Haines, Marian Waelder, Neil and Ruth Waelder, Kristine Waelder, Monica Naslund, Maureen and Ross Getman, and Paul and Patti Waelder. Also survived by her sister Maureen Flanigan, sister-in-law Judith Kelly and brother-in-law Martin Fotusky as well as 27 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.
Patricia valued family and most recently assisted with the creation of a legacy book about her husband Bill's heritage and family.
Patricia's greatest joy was celebrating the success of each individual's talents along their chosen path.
Calling hours will be Wednesday, March 10 from 4:00 to 7:00 at Burns and Garfield. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Syracuse, NY, on Thursday, March 11 at 9:30 AM. Live-streaming of the Mass will be available through cathedralsyracuse.org.
Current NYS COVID guidelines will be followed.
Contributions may be made to Samaritan Center, 215 N. State Street, Syracuse, NY 13203.