Palo Alto Online - Lasting Memories - Patty McEwen's memorial

Patty McEwen
June 7, 1923-March 16, 2024
Palo Alto, California

Patricia Ann Hoagland McEwen, a native Californian and longtime resident of Palo Alto, died peacefully on the 16th of March in San Mateo. She was 100.

Born in Los Angeles, Patty spent her infancy in Palo Alto. When the Depression struck, her parents Elmer and Marguerite moved back temporarily to Ohio to be with family. Elmer, a salesman, traveled a lot. Later, the family was able to return to Palo Alto permanently and lived on Guinda Street with Felix, a giant tortoise in the back yard who eventually escaped and made a new life for himself at the fire station on Embarcadero Road. Patty involved herself with the Children's Theatre, playing Snow White in its first production in 1932. The founder Hazel Robertson became a mentor and lifelong friend.

Patty attended Walter Hays elementary, Channing junior high school and graduated from Paly High in 1940. After studying English Literature at Colorado College, she completed her BA at Stanford, where she worked as a secretary in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. In 1950 she married Dick McEwen, a doctoral student in engineering.

In 1951, they moved to Southern California, where they had two children, Todd and Kirsty. A lifelong member of the AAUW, Patty developed her prodigious memory and pedagogical skills teaching popular AAUW classes on California history, one of her many passions.

In 1964, now back in Palo Alto, she pursued her studies in history, literature, and in Palo Alto itself, joining the Palo Alto Historical Association (PAHA) and serving on the board of the Children's Theatre. In the 1980s she helped raise funds for its new stage.

Patty meanwhile became fascinated by family history. She produced two extensive volumes tracing her lineage and Dick's, a massive task that occupied her for thirty years. The works were characterized by meticulous research and a great flair for narrative and anecdote. One of them won an important prize given by the Ohio Genealogical Association.

A record-breaking glaucoma patient, Patty managed through the help of doctors to retain her sight well beyond expectations, and continued to be an avid reader of audio books right up to her death. She was keen on Alcott, Sabatini, O'Brien, Helen Jackson's Ramona. Her other interests included her good friends and neighbors, her carers, the Triple Crown, parades, circuses and Errol Flynn. She watched bullfights broadcast from Mexico with the family cat.

She is survived by her son Todd of Edinburgh and daughter Kirsty of Key West. Dick predeceased her by three weeks.

Donations are welcomed to the Glaucoma Foundation, or to PAHA and its new museum.

Tags: arts/media, teacher/educator, public service

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