Mrs. Patricia Cantwell, 82, of Le Claire, Iowa, succumbed to Lewy Body Dementia at 7:41 a.m. on Thursday, August 20th, 2020 at Marigold Rehabilitation and Health Care, Galesburg, Illinois.
Pat was born on August, 27, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois. She is preceded in death by her parents and younger sister Rosemary. She is survived by her husband, Reverend John R. Cantwell, Sr. of Le Claire, Iowa, their son, John R. (and Tonia) Cantwell of Strawberry Point/Manchester, Iowa and their daughter, Anita (and Herman) Roche of Le Claire, Iowa. Also surviving are her younger brother’s Jim (and Cherie) Brown of Baraboo, WI, and William (and Paula) Brown of Arizona. She deeply valued family and friends, and absolutely treasured time spent with her grandchildren Katherine Cantwell, Hannah Cantwell, Jack Cantwell, and Molly Cantwell. Pat’s streamer trunk is filled with 82 years of mementos and can attest to how dearly close she held everyone in her life. Please remember you were one of them and she valued you.
John and Pat went to a one room school house together, but because Pat was two years younger they didn’t” run in the same circles”. However, at the annual Gurnee High School graduate picnic and softball game on Memorial Day weekend in 1956 their love story began. Pat was the pitcher for the softball team, and if you knew Pat this was extraordinary! What wasn’t? John’s banter when he came up to bat for the opposing team. He hit a proverbial home run that day. After the picnic/game they spent hours talking, both agreeing that they didn’t want to get involved in any serious relationship, but simply enjoy each other’s company for the summer. When John returned to the College of the Ozark’s (Theology) in the fall of 1956 he wrote love letter, after love letter to Pat. He poured his heart and soul out to her. All of these letters, including their envelopes, still reside in that steamer trunk. As does the red scarf Pat gave John for his rear-view mirror before he left, along with the carnival ring he won one summer night to which Pat responded, “Well, that’s for me right?” “Gladly” he said. They married the following summer in Gurnee, Illinois, on June 22, 1957.
Pat and John devoted their entire lives to each United Methodist Church assigned to them. They moved often and each time it became harder to give up the life they’d built. Gratefully they met wonderful, lifelong friends along their way. Pat found her passion and career when they moved to Frankfort, IL. She personally blossomed as the Executive Secretary to Eugene Chang, head of the Chang Lab, at the University of Chicago. A position she was very reluctant to give up, even to retire at their dream home in Allegan, Michigan. It was her identity. At the University she wasn’t a mother or a minister’s wife. At the University of Chicago, she was simply Pat. The person they relied on to keep everything running smoothly.
Mom was an organizational guru, was shabby chic before it was even a thing; she never passed on a junk shop/thrift store/auction/estate sale, and had a crazy green thumb. She taught us all the value of honesty, how to dig deep to find the personal strength to confront your childhood demons, to always continue to grow as a person, never take no for an answer, question everything, never settle for less, that Irish whiskey is the best, that you can be addicted to linens, paper towels and Kleenex, red paper clips are the best, thank-you notes and cards matter, being in nature is vital, friends and family are everything, and to embrace everyone.
I don’t think she ever realized how important she was or how many peoples’ lives she profoundly changed just by being her. She will be dearly missed, forever, but she told me in a crystal clear moment, via a window visit, a week to the day before she died, “I don’t want to live like this anymore”, and I told her, “You don’t have to. It’s okay to go”. In my heart, I know this to be true; she waited to go until she saw us all. We are all overwhelmingly relived that she died peacefully, and is no longer suffering from Lewy Body Dementia. It robbed her of everything she held dear.
May we all find peace and solstice knowing that Pat is organizing heaven, planting more flowers than needed, having a nip of Jameson, using copious amounts of paper towels, and planning another party so we can all be together.
Pat will be cremated according to her wishes, there will be no visitation or ceremony, and her ashes will be privately scattered in the places she loved. Please consider donating to the Lewy Body Dementia Association in her name at https://www.lbda.org/. It’s not Alzheimer. Learn the signs. Act early.
Cards can be sent to John Cantwell, Anita Roche, & Herman Roche at 28021 230th Street Le Claire, IA 52753 and to John Cantwell and Tonia Cantwell at 14610 330th Street. Strawberry Point IA, 52076
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