On Nov. 10, 2016, Patty Monaco left this world. Beside her were her beloved husband Vince and son, Anthony. With her indomitable spirit and her loving charming ways, Patty beguiled us into thinking we’d have lots more time with her. We mourn our loss, but Patty’s spirit lives on wherever people engage in friendship, the arts, excellence and fun.
Patty Monaco was born August 31, 1945 in Chicago, Illinois, toddled out of that town to California where she was raised and went to school through college. She met and married singer/musician Vince Monaco and left her eight brothers and sisters to venture forth with him to Alaska in 1969.
Patty and Vince taught in the public school and university system in Anchorage, Alaska and welcomed their son Anthony into the world in 1973.
While in Alaska, Patty raised and showed horses in five arenas, won awards for dressage, raised hedgehogs and dogs. She taught elementary school, 2nd-grade and then 5th-grade over her career of 26 years. Her love of teaching and of her students did not go unnoticed, as she was voted teacher of the year in 1990.
In 1993 Patty and Vince retired from teaching and moved to Orcas Island, where together they built their own home in Victorian Valley. Vince’s mother lived with them for several years before she passed away.
Patty and Vince’s home was the venue for many parties — the 4th of July, with Vince at the grill and where Patty mastered a mean cheesecake, abundant and joyous Christmas/New Year parties, raucous Super Bowl watching games and Oscar award celebrations among them. The tables groaned under great good food and the halls resounded with much laughter and joy.
Over the years Patty crafted clever and exquisite designs for numerous island events. Her dexterous, undaunted can-do spirit benefitted many organizations on the island, among them The Orcas Island Performing Arts and Community Center, The Actors Theatre, The Orcas Library, Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival.
Patty threw herself into every new learning experience, which she truly regarded as an adventure, whether learning to dock, steer and navigate their boat, Morning Star with Vince, mastering the art and craft of stained glass (her work hangs in the Children’s Room at the Orcas Island Public Library and every room in their house), editing and reviewing books for the Napra Review and the Nautilus Awards, becoming a first class graphics designer of invitations, programs and brochures or creating stunning floral arrangements, magical décor while calming nervous brides for numerous weddings through Petals and Twist.
She enjoyed bombing around the island in her Miata convertible, baseball cap firmly in place, and traveling with Vince around the globe with a map, few firm plans, and neverending curiosity.
She believed in dressing and decorating for every holiday and any occasion. She did so with flair and panache. Her unrivaled hat collection, themed jewelry sparkling vestments were worn with playful delight and happily shared with her friends and co-conspirators.
Her love of theater was shared with us through her many performances and participation in productions of The Actors Theater, a catalogue of which is too numerous to list. Her directorial debut at the Orcas (Off) Center was of “Einstein and Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” Most recently, she performed – in high heels! – a monologue in a three-woman show at Random Howse in 2014.
Wherever she went, wherever life took her, Patty found adventure and fulfillment. She carried a purse as magical as Mary Poppins; whatever you needed, she had it in there, such as an electronic, fold-up piano keyboard to help her practice singing.
Most recently, Patty became a vital part of twice-weekly Mah Jongg games, where she entered whole- heartedly into the strategies and happenstance of the “hand” she was dealt.
We are heartbroken to lose her and can only try to carry on tapping into our memories of her ubiquitous generosity, kind spirit and that ever-present twinkle in her eye to guide us.
A memorial service will be held Friday, Dec. 16 at the Orcas Center starting at 1 p.m.