On November 12, 2017, Home School Legal Defense Association lost our much-loved friend and coworker, Pat Ramirez, age 66, following her long battle with cancer.
Pat came to work at HSLDA in 1989 as assistant to then–Vice President Mike Smith. Mike and Pat hit it off so well that she held the position as his assistant for 23 years, faithfully serving our members until her cancer diagnosis in 2012.
“Pat came to HSLDA without any background in homeschooling, but quickly became a vigorous advocate for our members,” Mike recalls. “She enjoyed helping our member families and went the extra mile to serve. She was always on time, actually arriving early, and was professional in every way. She truly was my right-hand woman, and I often told her that if she quit HSLDA, I would have to quit, too.”
A classic redhead with a vibrant, fun-loving personality, Pat is remembered for being direct yet diplomatic. She sincerely cared about people—including the homeschooling families we serve, her coworkers, friends, family, and her Savior Jesus Christ. She volunteered in many ways at her church throughout the years.
Pat had a keen sense of humor, and delighted in playing elaborate practical jokes. Once, when a coworker turned 50, she collaborated with friends to hire a hearse to pick him up and decorate his office with a rocking chair, cozy slippers, a lap blanket, a walker, and other accoutrements of advanced age.
Although Pat had no children herself, she connected easily with children, often babysitting for colleagues and leading neighborhood children’s Bible clubs. Having grown up going camping with her dad, she continued to enjoy expeditions in the Volkswagen campervan she inherited from him.
Another of Pat’s passions was Siamese cats—she volunteered with the Virginia Siamese Rescue, eventually fostering 80 cats, transporting rescue cats, interviewing potential adopters, and serving on the board.
A resident of Sterling, Virginia, Pat enjoyed attending craft fairs and engaged in a wide range creative activities—scrapbooking, cross-stitching, crocheting cat toys for fundraisers, and participating in rescue cat bed sewing assembly lines. Often taking her breaks at work with her Kindle or a book, Pat read avidly, and co-laborers and friends could count on her for fascinating book recommendations. She always showed up at the annual company picnic with a favorite fun group game for all ages.
Reflecting on Pat’s last few years, Ricci Black, a long-time friend and more recent coworker, says, “When Pat became sick and then retired from HSLDA in December five years ago, I visited her often. She loved being kept up-to-date on my family and the goings-on at the office.”
“She freely expressed her faith in God’s promises and was not afraid of dying,” Ricci remembers. “I had the privilege of being with Pat as she took her last peaceful breath. She was a loyal friend and confidant, a wise counselor, and a kind encourager to me over the 26 years of our friendship. I will always miss her, and I can’t wait to see her again.”
“We all miss Pat very much,” Mike says, “but after fighting cancer for five years, Pat is now enjoying heaven where there is no cancer, no pain—only joy.”
Our sympathy and prayers are with Pat’s family and friends. And we’re glad to know that her beloved cat Moto has been adopted by a friend.
We miss you, Pat!
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Anna Soltis.