Obituary of Patricia L. Guerrero
GUERRERO, Patricia Louise
After 85 years of a courageously led life, the world lost a beautiful and well-loved person. On February 21, 2023, our mom Patty died peacefully at her home in Saint Paul, a place from which, despite otherwise gentle encouragement from us, she never wanted to move. She prized her independence, and despite our worrying about her living alone, we are glad she prevailed and was able to leave on her own terms. Typical. She had personal flair, was uniquely stylish, and was sharp and active until the very end.
Outside of her children, Patty was most passionate about peace and social justice. Of the many things which she was good at, a thing she did best was write letters, always in her beautiful cursive. She literally wrote hundreds of letters to newspaper editors and elected officials, on issues ranging from gun control, the environment, childhood poverty, criminal justice, corporate avarice, and war, all of which she believed had a connecting thread. But her most important letters were to her friends, family members, and often to people she did not even know well but whose life or circumstance needed encouragement and validation. She wrote many letters to the children of friends she loved and lost. Her letters and cards often contained quotes – she loved quotes – and believed a good quote distills the essence of the things that matter most, namely life, love, and kindness. Her letters and beautiful handmade cards often included quotes from artists such as Bob Dylan, writers and poets such as Kurt Vonnegut and Mary Oliver, and from many spiritual leaders. Her dining room table was constantly awash with cards and paper, scissors and stamps – she was always in need of stamps.
Her life was committed to progressive causes. From establishing the first La Leche League in her small Indiana hometown, starting an intergenerational reading program with seniors and young people after moving the family to St. Paul in 1973, hosting weekly conversational salons at a tea house on West 7th Street for almost 10 years – which brought friends and community members together to enjoy poetry, music, educational videos, and simply to explore and discuss the important issues of the day – Patty wanted the world to be a better educated, more loving, caring place. She was a longtime and active member of Women Against Military Madness founded by her beloved late friend Polly Mann, was active in Tackling Torture at the Top, and for the last several years has spent almost every Monday night (even in the cold) in front of the Governor’s Mansion protesting the oil pipeline in northern Minnesota. As she aged, she found strength and wisdom in the teachings of Buddhism, particularly of the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and was a regular for many years in the classes held at the Compassionate Ocean Zen Center.
Born on March 16, 1937, to Charlie and Louise Fowler in Marion, Indiana, Patty was the youngest of three children. Following her graduation from Miami University of Ohio, Patty married Manuel Guerrero, with whom she raised six children: Daniel, Michael, Ann (Thomas) Gilligan, Todd (Mary), Chad, Clare Angie (Thierry) Vivier. She was grandmother to ten, and great-grandmother of four, with a fifth to be born in March. When asked what she’d like to be best remembered for, she wrote “that I loved my children with every bone in my body; that they are perfect just the way they are, with whatever changes they wish to make.” We are so lucky; we knew how much she loved us – she told us every day. And we loved her too. More than words can tell. She taught us kindness, compassion, and tolerance. She wanted above else for us to be happy, to love each other, and to help others. Her departure leaves a void of spirit, energy, activism and love. We will miss her very much and will cherish the rest of our days the memories, example and lessons she left us.
There will be a gathering to celebrate Patty’s original, purposeful life on Sunday, February 26, 2023, at Willwerscheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Avenue, St. Paul from 1:00-5:00 pm, with a service at 4:00 pm. Instead of flowers, please consider a donation to WAMM or the Compassionate Ocean Zen Center. Patty recently sent her grandkids this message in her annual Christmas card: “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’”- Kurt Vonnegut.To plant a beautiful memorial tree in memory of Patricia Guerrero, please visit our Tree Store