Patricia Katherine Horne Syvanen, 89, of Brewster and Largo, Fla. died gracefully on Aug. 17, 2022 in the company of loved ones at McCarthy House Hospice in Sandwich.
Pat was an enthusiastic student, teacher, writer, activist, musician, artist, singer, healer, traveler, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Her vast community of friends is a testament to her skill at sisterhood.
The daughter of Jack and Agnes (Segrave) Horne, Patricia was born in Bayside, N.Y. and always knew that “she was destined to be a teacher,” said her daughter Liis. As she prepared to graduate from high school, her parish priest said, “We have to get this smart woman off to college.”
She won a scholarship to Misericordia College (now university) in Dallas, Pa., where she majored in education. She taught gifted children in Washington, having been attracted to the state by her husband, Robert Syvanen, who had served in the military there.
With their growing family Pat and Bob decided to emigrate to Australia. For three months, Liis recalled, they camped across the outback and met many eccentric people. But, Liis said, “the people there were not receptive to Pat’s feminism,” so the family returned to the U.S. and settled in Brewster.
Pat taught at Dennis-Yarmouth High School, Cape Cod Tech, and Nauset Middle School. “My mom really loved kids,” said Liis, “and she met them where they were.” One year, on the first day of class, Pat sat at the front of the room with her face hidden behind a newspaper. After all had settled down, she lowered the paper to reveal a Groucho Marx mustache and glasses set.
School administrators, however, were not always happy with Pat’s “freewheeling ways,” said Liis.
Pat wrote plays, stories, essays, and memoirs, and self-published a book of ideas and inspiration for teachers. For years after retiring, she taught writing to adults, conducted writing groups, and ran workshops at the International Women’s Writing Guild.
Pat was most recently working on a book about death. Her son Richard died of cancer at 38, after which Pat worked as a hospice volunteer for more than a decade. She felt, Liis said, that “people needed to be able to talk about death.”
She is survived by her daughters, Liis McKenna and husband Ed of Eastham and Ginger Daniels and husband Will of Brewster; grandson Rob Daniels and wife Meryl of Marshfield, Vt.; grandson Dan McKenna, wife Nora, and son Bruce of Gloucester; granddaughter Hillary Teran, husband Cosme, and son Andres of Harwich; and grandson Dave McKenna, sweetheart Robyn Argo, and “best dog” Wallace of Orleans.
Pat was predeceased by her husband, Bob, daughter Dorothy, and sons Bob and Richard.
Friends are invited to a celebration of Pat’s life from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 4:00 at Chapel in the Pines, Eastham.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to VNA Hospice at hospicefed.org.
Condolences can be left on the Nickerson Funeral Home website.