Patricia Van Hoosear Westerbeke
Patricia Van Hoosear Westerbeke
Wrapped in a colorful hand-woven huipil, a glorious comet streaks across the sky and into the Mystic Forever, where she is greeted with cheers and a hearty round of applause: it appears Patty has made it to the Heavenly Feast table just in time!
Patricia Ann Westerbeke died at the age of 87, on Friday, Nov. 16, from complications following a fall, leaving a gaping hole in the fabric of her family and her globe-spanning network of friends and devotees. She had roots in Sonoma going back more than 75 years, first spending summers on the family ranch on Grove Street beginning in 1935.
Under Patty’s vision and guidance, the family ranch became the Westerbeke Ranch Conference Center, which she claimed was her “greatest achievement” after her children.
It would be difficult to overstate the impact that Patty Westerbeke has had on the lives of people throughout her life as it seemed her true passion and gift was to bring care and hope to people who had little. From her works in Cambodian refugee camps and Haiti and the Philippines, to her ceaseless organizing and networking with people high and low, Patty was the embodiment of the power of love and creativity. She had the will and stamina to move mountains, and often did; she never stopped pushing hard to make the world a better place.
When she wasn’t busy bringing light and warmth to the people and when she’d done enough prodding of those who thwarted her indomitable drive to improve the world, she might make a little time to take out her watercolors and paint something lovely, or knit a colorful scarf. She was an avid birder; nothing tickled her more than watching the pair of vulture chicks grow up in the woods across from her house last summer. She frequently took in waifs and wanderers, many of whom say their lives were changed forever.
Patty was born Patricia Ann, in San Francisco in 1925 to Richard and Muriel Van Hoosear, a third-generation California family. She graduated from the Hamlin’s School and went on to the University of California where she graduated with a degree in political science in 1946. She was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.
She loved to dance, sail, swim, ride horses, ski and on a ski trip to Sugar Bowl in 1948 she met Donald George Westerbeke. They were soon married, and had four children – David, Wendell Ann, Richard and Susan. In the 1960s, Patty and Don became involved in the Human Potential Movement and brought together many of the luminaries of the day to the family ranch in Sonoma for weekend retreats to whet their burgeoning interest in alternative healing and personal growth.
Some of the luminaries who were nurtured with her festive touch include Stanley Krippner, Pema Chodren, Joseph Campbell, Werner Erhart, Gregory Bateson, Michael Murphy, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Dan Millman, Natalie Rogers, Michael Harner and many, many more. She was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from the Saybrook Institute. Patty was widowed in 1994, but to her last day she never slowed down to look back.
She is survived by her two sisters, Joyce Moulton and Marilyn Goode; her four children and spouses, David (Aileen Reis), Wendell Ann (Ted Bucklin), Susan (Rik Lawrence) and Richard “Van”; four granddaughters, Adriana (Josh Livingston), Julia, Christina and Ariel; and a newborn great-grandson, Clyde Van Livingston. Patty also left behind her “bonus” daughters Margaret Chapman, Pen Leng, Marcia Bertke (Westerbeke), and her loyal partner in mischief, John DuPuis.
A celebration of Patty’s beautiful life will be held at the Westerbeke Ranch Conference Center, 2300 Grove St. in Sonoma, beginning at noon, on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, – Feast Day of the Virgen de Guadalupe, a day of special importance to her.
In lieu of flowers, Patty would prefer that you send a check to the American Red Cross, 5297 Aero Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403-8070.