Patricia Dwyer, 85

Mother, matriarch, devout Catholic

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Patricia Jane Dwyer (nee Powell), 85, died on Oct. 30, 2015 in Forest Park after a long struggle with congestive heart disease. Her passage was witnessed by her husband of 64 years, William Dwyer Sr. and more than two dozen of her children, brothers and sisters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Ms. Dwyer was born at Saint Anne's Hospital on West Division Street in Chicago on Aug. 30, 1930. She grew up in the Austin neighborhood, attending St. Angela Grade School and Providence Girls High School. She remained a devout Catholic throughout her life.

In 1944, the Powell family moved to the 800 block of South Highland Avenue in Oak Park. In 1950, while working at Illinois Bell Telephone as an operator, she met her future husband, Bill, a Maywood native, at a young adult's dance in the Ascension School Pine Room, where she frequently sang with the band when not dancing up a storm.

While she was an old-fashioned, good Catholic girl, she was also a passionate dancer who, into her late 60s, could clear dance floors at weddings as the crowd watched her and Bill jitterbug and foxtrot, often to her favorite song, Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife."

Pat and Bill were married at Ascension Church in August, 1951. After brief periods in Chicago and Springfield, they returned to Oak Park to raise a growing family on the 300 block of North Harvey Avenue. In the late '50s and early '60s, she was a Cub Scout den mother.

But there was a dark cloud over the family — Bill's deepening alcohol abuse. In 1966, she returned to work at Illinois Bell Telephone to help the family's struggling finances, working first as an operator, then as an engineering clerk in the Cicero office. She retired in 1992 after 26 years with the company.

In 1980, Bill finally won his decades-long battle with alcoholism, allowing her to relax into a calmer, more joyous life, focused on her ever-growing extended family.

The couple retired to Rome, Wisconsin in 1992 after building their retirement home on camping land they owned. Five years later, they relocated several hundred miles south to the far more temperate climes of Marion, Illinois.

There she was active in civic affairs, working with her husband as co-chair of the Marion Main Street economic association on fundraising projects. She annually played Mrs. Claus to his Santa, once arriving via helicopter, another time on motorcycle.

She also served as a Eucharistic minister for St. Joseph Church in Marion, as well as a social activities planner.

For nearly 60 years, she was a member of Beta Gamma Epsilon sorority, Gamma Chapter, which raised funds for Leader Dogs For the Blind. 

Patricia Dwyer was preceded in death by her father, Howard Hubbard "Hap" Powell (1965) and her mother, Margaret Cavanagh "Peg" Powell (1998) of Oak Park.

In addition to her husband, Bill, she is survived by her eight children, Bill Jr. (the late Carol), Keith (Karen), Bryan (Cindy), Peggy (Rick) Sabatino, Marian (Randy) Howell, Bob (Sue), Stephen (Nikki) and Nancy (formerly to Ed Collins); and her seven siblings, Susan (Carl) Wisdom, Richard (Catherine), Terence (Helen), Kathleen (James) Plepel, Michael (Camille), Kevin (Karen), and David (Anita). She also leaves 26 grandchildren, age 17-39, and 11 great-grandchildren, age 1-8. 

 

A wake will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3 at Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St., Oak Park, with a funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m., Nov. 4 at St. Catherine-St. Lucy Church, 38 N. Austin Blvd., Oak Park.

The funeral Mass will be celebrated by Patricia's nephew, Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, O.P., who will be assisted by two of her grandchildren, Benjamin Sabatino and Kimberlee Dwyer.

Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Leader Dogs for the Blind, 1039 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48307-3115.

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