Laura Mae Patterson, who was born on February 8, 1928, died in her home on December 24, 2021 of heart failure. She was 93 years old.
She is survived by her daughter Caroline Patterson (Fred Haefele) and her granddaughter Phoebe and grandson Tobin; her son, John F. Patterson III; and her daughter Cathleen Morrison (Michael Morrison) of Portland, Oregon; granddaughter Halley Lopez (Jake Lopez) great-grandson Lorenz of Central Point, Oregon; and Georgia Mae Morrison (David Nguyen) and her great-granddaughter Stella of Portland, Oregon.
Born Laura Mae Moore to Grace and Tom Moore in Patchogue, Long Island, two artists, Laura inherited a love of art and music from her parents. When her father lost his job as a commercial artist with Wurlitzer pianos during the Depression, she travelled with her parents and her sisters, Harriet and Grace in the 1930s to her father's new job as a medical illustrator for the Rocky Mountain Lab in Hamilton, Montana. While her father drew medical posters about ticks at work, in his off hours, he painted portraits of the Bitterroot Salish. Here Laura learned to love the outdoors. When she was about to have her long black braid cut off at the hairdresser's, he stopped her and had her return home to that he could paint her portrait. She had a best friend, Bonnie Dee: one Christmas they gave each other a present of a can of olives. Her father left the family in the mid-1930s. Her mother Grace took a job in Washington, D.C., and Laura went to life with her middle sister Harriet in Glasgow, where she finished high school.
It was at the University of Montana, where she studied business education and sang in the choir, that she met her husband of 57 years, John F. Patterson, Jr. He saw her singing in the choir--her black pageboy, her high cheekbones and red lipstick--and was smitten. He asked her to a dance--in fact, he asked her to every dance that year, even accompanying her on a choir trip so she wouldn't date anyone else. John Patterson proposed to her at Bailey's Tea Room in 1948 and they married on August 21, 1948. A lover of dresses, shoes, and hats, she worked at a Missoula dress store and said later it was hard not to wear her paycheck out on her back. She belonged to Kappa Kappa Epilson Sorority, was s a runner-up for Miss Montana, and graduated in business education in 1948. She helped put her husband, Jack Patterson, through law school by teaching school in Victor in the 1950s, staying at the teacherage during the week and returning home on the weekend. After Jack passed his bar exam, they moved into the home that Jack's grandfather built on Fifth Street, where they raised three children. They also built at cabin on a year-to-year lease on Pierce Lake in 1953.
Hard-working and civic-minded, Laura supported her family and community in myriad ways. She was a poll worker for numerous elections. She was initiated into the PEO Chapter H on February 1, 1955, then later helped found the Z chapter. She was a volunteer for the Methodist Church, the Missoula Symphony Association, the Friendship Force, and volunteered in schools as room mother and in the school libraries.
Laura made her home a mecca for her family, hosting countless Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Summers, when the aunts and her mother came to visit, she cooked countless sugar cookies and steeped endless pots of tea where, at 4:30 each day, women could gather to solve world problems. A lover of dogs, not to mention bargains, she was famous for the 100 pounds of chicken feed that came along with 25 free chicks--all roosters--that adorned backyard one summer to the delight of our neighbors.
She encouraged her three children to pursue college degrees even advanced degrees in their fields of choice. A tiger mom before her time, she required her kids to have the piano lessons she wished she'd had. She loved listening to concerts at the Missoula Symphony, reading good literature, playing bridge with her bridge group of fifty years and at the Senior Citizens Center. She and Jack travelled to China, Taiwan, Eastern Europe, Germany, and Scotland; after his death she travelled to Florida, California, and three times to Hawaii.
Condolences can be sent to the family at 304 S. 5th Street East. The family will hold a small private graveside service. In summer, a larger memorial will be held at the UCC Congretional Church.