UPDATE: A Memorial Service, followed by light refreshments, will be held at Messiah Lutheran Church (4301 Mt. Read Blvd.) on Saturday, June 10 at 11:00 am. If you would like to participate from afar, please contact the family for a link to the Zoom broadcast.
Hilton, NY – Feb. 5, 2023. Following a lifetime dedicated to family, teaching, learning, and service, Patsy died at home after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer at age 79.
She is survived by her devoted husband of 56 years, Ralph, daughter Christy, of Brooklyn, son Eric and his wife Veronica Llerena, and beloved grandchildren Felix and Coco, of Chicago, IL. She also leaves behind sister Elaine Scarry and partner Philip Fisher of Cambridge, MA and brother Joe Scarry and partner Rachel Bauman of Madison, WI, as well as nieces and nephews Ron and Ana Tydings, Kevin and Cassandra Tydings, Mark and Christine Fisher, J.T. Scarry, Tip Scarry and Lauren Merage Scarry, and Alanna Huck-Scarry.
Patsy was born to Eva and Joseph Scarry, Jr. in New Brunswick, NJ and grew up in the towns of Summit and Chatham as the older sister of Elaine and Joe. She met Ralph in confirmation classes at St. John’s Lutheran Church and they were in the same class beginning in junior high school. Patsy had a lifelong love of singing and was in the all-state choir in high school, when she was also editor of the yearbook.
She earned a full scholarship to Chatham College in Pittsburgh, where she waited on tables at the dining hall, sang in the choir, served as president of the Honor Board and received her degree in Psychology. She taught elementary school in Madison, NJ after college and married Ralph in 1966. She took her first trip on an airplane for their honeymoon in Bermuda.
While Ralph attended graduate school at Cornell, she taught 6th grade in Interlaken, NY. She typed up his PhD dissertation, which he dedicated to her. They moved to Greece after Ralph accepted a position at Kodak Research Labs in Rochester. Patsy gave birth to Eric in 1970, and the family moved to their home on Peck Road in 1971. Christy was born in 1973.
Patsy imbued in the children her love of reading and music, fueled by frequent trips to the libraries in Hilton and downtown Rochester. She cooked wholesome and tasty meals, and the kids continued to request recipes and kitchen tips through adulthood. She filled Eric’s and Christy’s summer vacations with enriching activities and sewed magnificent costumes for them each Halloween, and was always an avid supporter of their academic, athletic and extracurricular pursuits.
In a 2006 blog post she described “the rush of love and happy memories of my own children’s play experiences I get when I watch Felix and Coco reading, interacting and playing.” Their visits to grandma and grandpa included trips to the Strong Museum, Genesee Country Village, Springdale Farm and the beaches of Lake Ontario. Always the teacher, Patsy wove science knowledge into these encounters with nature. As they got older Patsy fostered Coco’s love of baking (and TV cooking shows) and provided a steady stream of surefire book recommendations to feed Felix’s appetite for reading. Throughout the grandkids’ youth theater careers, Ralph and Patsy were superfans, making the trek to Chicago to see their performances, including their last show together in Feb. 2020, a high school production of Into The Woods.
Patsy was a master of gardening and crafts and the home was always set up with beautiful seasonal objects she’d sewn, drawn, constructed, photographed or curated from the natural world. Every Christmas, the family room featured a live tree hung with delicate ornaments and lights that charmed visitors. The singing never stopped, as she sang in Messiah Lutheran Church’s choir for decades and, for a period in the 1980s, the Rochester Oratorio Society, with which she performed in London, Salzburg, and Notre Dame Cathedral. In the late-1970s Patsy led efforts to resettle several refugee families from Vietnam in Rochester, and became a beloved and respected presence in their new homes and community events.
In the early 1980s she earned her Master’s degree in Education from SUNY Brockport. For 20 years, she taught 2nd grade in the Greece Central School District, both at Parkland and as part of the inclusion-championing “Sunshine Family” at West Ridge. Upon retiring from teaching, she joined the district’s Technical Integration Team, where she helped teachers incorporate computers into student learning. Her last job, teaching SAT prep to high school students all over the world, allowed her to travel to Amsterdam, Beijing, Brussels, Geneva, The Hague, Kuala Lumpur and Mexico City.
In retirement, she and Ralph visited many wonders of the world (in places like Egypt, Peru, Turkey, China and the American West), but the place that most captured their hearts and imaginations was the Caribbean island of Bonaire, where they snorkeled the coral reefs on successive trips. When Christy and Eric and his family accompanied them, it became their favorite place on earth, too. Patsy was the designated photographer on every trip; upon returning, she would make prints and fashion them into greeting cards, which she would batch up as gifts and send out to family and friends.
In the summer, the trips needed to be a bit shorter, as Patsy didn’t like to be away from her backyard gardens for long periods of time. The basement had a section filled with shelves and grow-lights, where she grew vegetables and flowers from seed and did all the transplanting. She literally did the heavy lifting each spring, side by side with Ralph. Patsy had a particular fascination with dahlias – she identified the best tubers, preserved them in the basement over winter, cultivated them under the grow-lights, and planted more than 50 varieties each year. Over the years, the flowers became more beautiful and bounteous. She took lots of pictures (and, yes, made them into greeting cards!) but gave the bouquets away. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, with Christy home for an extended visit, the trio launched a “Little Free Florist” (@little_free_florist on Instagram). Patsy cut buckets full of blooms, arranged them, and set them in a cart by the road for passersby to take. Over three growing seasons, she gave away hundreds of bunches of daffodils and more than a thousand bouquets of homegrown flowers. Through notes people left for her, she learned that the Little Free Florist arrangements had ended up with residents of nursing homes, sick or grieving friends, grandparents, teachers, and others. “This small attempt to live generously didn’t cost me anything,” she said in a testimonial she gave for her church. “We all have to work harder to maintain connections these days, and face the reality that any one of us is not going to solve all the big problems. But I’ve come to believe that any small way we can share our joy with each other has to work for good.”
Patsy put her faith in action. She and Ralph went most Thursday mornings to pre-pack bags of food for the Messiah Food Pantry, and delivered food for the Greece Food Shelf and Concord/Messiah Backpack programs. They brought clothing collected at church to House of Mercy and the Open Door Mission. Patsy went to Washington Square Park to hear community leaders speak and to City Hall to rally for Sanctuary City status. She re-learned knitting to make herself a pink hat to wear in the protests for civil rights and gender equality in 2017. On Friday afternoons in 2020 she stood at busy intersections in Greece with signs in support of Black Lives Matter, giving a wave to drivers who honked and a thumbs-up to those who extended their middle fingers. For birthdays and holidays, Patsy asked her grandchildren to select items from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Good Gifts catalog, which funds things like livestock, micro-loans, school supplies, and mosquito nets to people in developing countries, which she then paid for on their behalf.
Through it all, Patsy loved books, her multiple book clubs, and all the friends in them. She loved her church and her church family. She loved her fellow teachers and her “Hilton gang.” She loved using the latest technologies to stay in touch with her children, grandchildren, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. She loved her cats over the years: Flipperling, Animation and Pachinko. She loved going with Ralph to the Cinema Theater in Rochester for the double feature, preceded by dinner out, nearly every Friday night for 25 years. She loved seeing plays at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada every summer for five decades. She loved her daily inspection of the bluebird nests and photographing the progress from egg to fledgling. Most of all, she loved sitting in the screened porch in her tranquil backyard, glancing up from her book or art project or word game whenever the soft buzzing of a hummingbird’s wings signaled that it was at one of the feeders.
Throughout her adulthood, and even in her final days, she expressed deep gratitude and remarked upon how lucky she felt. This short reflection was found scribbled in her notebook.
To have lived in a castle
To have seen the world
To have swum fearlessly in the sea
To have produced beauty out of the dirt
To have loved and been loved without reservations
To have had money for everything
To have made no enemies
Such unearned riches.
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The Jones family would like to thank Dr. Daniel Mulkerin and his staff at Wilmot Cancer Institute and the team at UR Medicine Hospice for their compassionate care.
If you wish to make a donation in Patsy’s memory in lieu of flowers, you may consider some of the organizations she and her family valued:
- Messiah’s Food Pantry, [hyperlink: http://www.messiahlutheranchurch.net/content/food-pantry] or your local food bank
- Reef Renewal Bonaire [hyperlink: https://www.reefrenewalbonaire.org/]
- UR Medicine Wilmot Cancer Institute [hyperlink: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/cancer-institute/giving.aspx]
- UR Medicine Hospice Care [hyperlink: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/home-care/hospice-care/donations.aspx]