Patty Corrigan

Patty Corrigan

Of course it was the hat that everyone noticed at first; velvet or straw, festooned with buttons or felted wool flowers. There was always a hat, well, at least for the last four decades of her life.
There were sometimes hats covering her pixie cut in the 1960s and 70s but by the end, there was a sign in the nursing home making it clear that Miss Patty should always be wearing a hat.
The hat was just the first thing people noticed. It wouldn’t take long for them take in the generous smile that often turned mischievous and the easy laugh. And the hand that gestured out in a friendly salute, the one that said, “hello fellow traveller”! They then would notice the sweet butter and pepper grinder she produced from her Mary Poppins handbag to add a little flavor to a lackluster restaurant meal. Food was at the core of her existence, food and books and she celebrated them both with great fervor. She loved to write down a good quote while she read, like this one by Jim Harrison, “cook your own food, distance from food preparation poisons the soul with cold abstractions.”
Patty, Patricia Ann Orman Peterson Corrigan, was born September 19, 1932 in Alexandria, MN. She was deeply loved, shamelessly doted on, photographed more than any child of the Depression and adored by her grandparents, Swedish immigrants who called her “my silver pet” and “my gold pet,” respectively. Legend has it that Patty’s Swedish was better than her English when she arrived to Kindergarten. She was a member of a local gang of sweet faced girls who sometimes played with matches.
She attended Stillwater High School, like her mother before her and her children to come, and then attended Macalester College’s school for elementary education, Miss Wood’s. She loved college, loved the intellectual pursuit, the place suited her well. She went on to teach second grade at St. Paul Academy where one Michael Corrigan, age 7, fell deeply and irrevocably in love with her and begged his parents to have her for supper. She, in turn, fell in love with the entire Bishop and Elizabeth Corrigan family and decided to marry one of them.
Little Pat and Big Pat were married November 13, 1954 at St. Paul’s on the Hill, Bishop Corrigan presiding. Patty, ever eschewing convention, wore a navy silk satin tea length dress her mother made for her, with exquisite, and exquisitely time consuming, French knots tied around the hem and neckline. Their honeymoon in Europe had a lasting and magical influence on her and she shared that love of Europe with her children: Daniel, Kate, Josh and Lucy, all born between 1958-1962. One historical note, there were no disposable diapers back then.
They all moved to Marine on St. Croix in 1963 to a house next to a waterfall in the middle of the woods. Patty loved to hike those woods and fields, which was a good thing because it would be many years before she got her license and could drive her first car, a light blue Buick Skylark, a convertible, much to her children’s delight.
Life in Marine was mostly grand, with Patty substitute teaching at Marine Elementary and belonging to a gang of sweet faced mothers who sometimes played with matches. She honed her cooking skills, feeding legions of her children’s friends and eventually started a catering company with a friend, and then one day becoming the dessert maker at The Dock Cafe in Stillwater. She and Patrick divorced in 1974.
Eventually, she sold the big house and moved to Bayport to help take care of her mother, Mimi. She worked at Warm World daycare where she received the moniker Miss Patty and it stuck, maybe it had something to do with the hats.
Patty Corrigan had the soul of a poet, finding magnitude in the smallest of things and letting joy meet her wherever she was. Entered in her datebook for February 13, 1993, she wrote, “up at 4:30 a.m., 11.35 hours, I work so long and so hard and have such fun in the kitchen, I wonder if there is even one other person here who enjoys their work as I do.”
Patty Clos’d This Earthly Scene on March 6, 2017 with her daughter Lucy by her side, holding her hand.
If you are so moved to celebrate Miss Patty’s life, she surely would have loved for you to donate to The Foundation for Bayport Public Library.
And thank you to all who cared for her so devotedly for six years at The Good Samaritan in Stillwater and especially her beloved Deb Sawyer. She is survived by her much littler brother Ned and a whole bunch of people who loved her very much including her four kids, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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