My fingers have seemed to come a bit out of the paralyzing grief I have found my entire body experiencing these last few days.  I’ve always been a rather sensitive person, easily feeling and crying for others’ sad plights–I thought I would be a bit prepared to deal with loss when it would come my way.

How wrong I was! I was blindsided by the utter emotional and physical pain, the thousands of new stabbings to my gut and heart at a mere thought or mention of Patrick, the inability to eat anything at all, the weakness in my legs, unable to walk straight, extreme paralysis.

I still cannot begin to write about the ways I miss Patrick or about the ways the kids and I will miss him–I just cannot go there right now.

I have read all the sincere, loving, and beautiful comments and emails that come my way.  I breathe in all the prayers and support and love and strength I feel from them, and then I breathe out all my pain–just hoping that this huge outcry of community support from not only Michiana but across the nation will be able to take that pain of mine and disperse and dissipate it.

My children are each suffering and surviving in their own ways.  I’ve already seen Pat’s strength make itself known in my beautiful boys.

My time at the keyboard has expired–my hands are too shaky again.

There’s a lot of good that will come of this–check out for ways Henry Scott and the local bike shops and other advocates are making a difference.  We need to keep up this momentum.

If there’s anything you can do for me, it would be to ensure that *good* comes of this incident!

Here is Patrick’s obituary from The South Bend Tribune:

Patrick John Sawyer    
1968 – 2008
SOUTH BEND – Patrick John Sawyer, 40, of South Bend, died in the early hours of July 21 from injuries he sustained in a hit and run accident. An avid athlete, Patrick was bicycling from home to swim at the YMCA on July 16 when he was struck on Cleveland Road. He was taken to Memorial Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery and then struggled valiantly for life over the next several days. He died of complications from a severe brain injury.Only days ago Pat was here with us, handsome and strong, living a full life devoted to his family and his dreams. He was just weeks away from completing his nursing degree in the accelerated nursing program at IUSB. He had just participated in the US National Marathon Kayak team time trials. He was training with his oldest son Danny for the upcoming youth triathlon. He recently enjoyed time on vacation with his extended family.

He has been an endearing uncle and father-figure to nieces and nephews, a respected brother, a loyal son, a trusted friend, an involved and extraordinary father to his four children, and a dedicated and loving best friend and husband to his wife, Nancy.

Pat was loaded with vitality and brought honesty, hard work, compassion, and care to whatever he was doing. He was a well-known kayak competitor and promoter of the sport. He competed in the US National Marathon Kayak trials twice. He raced in two of the three “triple crown events” of marathon kayak racing, including a 70-mile event and a 120-mile race over three days.

In 2002 Patrick drew the region’s attention to river ecology by embarking on a solo journey, River Quest, along the full length of the St. Joseph River, starting in his kayak at the river’s origin at Lake Baw Beese in Hillsdale County, and over the next four days paddling the 210-miles to the mouth of Lake Michigan at the other end of the river. Patrick was a founder of Paddlefest, an annual kayaking and canoeing festival centered on the St. Joseph River that draws paddlers from around the country.

A testament to his nurturing character, he shared his love of the sport by introducing it to others and by investing his time and talent in patiently instructing and cheering on others – unique for a competitor at his level.

Patrick was born in Milwaukee and raised in Kokomo, the youngest of eleven children. He served honorably in the Army and was stationed in Korea. Before entering nursing school, he was a master craftsman–as a mason, his work in that craft stands at the University of Notre Dame and other sites around the area.

He is beloved by so many and will be unspeakably missed by his friends in the nursing school, the paddling community, swimming community, home-school community, and especially by his family who deeply loves him and is grateful for the gift he has been to them.

Patrick is survived by his wife, Nancy (Fink) Sawyer; and his four children, Daniel, Joseph, Thomas, and Laura, all of South Bend.

Also surviving are his parents, Robert G. and Patricia J. Sawyer of Kokomo, IN; and parents-in-law, James and Marjorie Fink of South Bend;

Patrick’s seven brothers, Robert (Debbie) Sawyer of Brighton, MI, Timothy (Julie) Sawyer of LaCrosse, WI, Mark Sawyer of Iowa, Tom (Lisa) Sawyer of Wabash, IN, Andrew (Tina) Sawyer of Kokomo, IN, Dennis Sawyer of Lebanon, IN, and Daniel Sawyer of Milwaukee, WI;

Patrick’s three sisters, Irene (Rick) Sawyer of Germantown, WI, Mary (Mike) Werner of Peru, IN, Theresa (Barry) Kratzer of Kokomo, IN;

Nancy’s four brothers, Mike (Amy) Fink of Mesa, AZ, Joseph (Sarah) Fink of Valparaiso, IN, Billy Fink of Elkhart, IN, and Ronald Michael (Monica) Fink of Oklahoma City, OK;

Nancy’s three sisters, Mary (Fink) Meck of South Bend, IN, Annie (Jeff) Stahl of South Bend, IN, and Julie (Chris) Hall of South Bend, IN;

and 41 of Pat’s nieces and nephews; and 10 great nieces and nephews. Patrick was preceded in death by his great nephew and godchild, Dante Sawyer.

Funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Monday July 28 in Little Flower Catholic Church 54191 N. Ironwood South Bend (between State Rd. 23 & Douglas Roads). Visitation will be 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday July 27, in the HICKEY Funeral Homes, 17131 Cleveland Road South Bend (between Ironwood and Grape Roads.) and Monday 10 a.m. until services in the church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made for Patrick’s children to the “Benefit for Patrick Sawyer” at any Key Bank location. Donations will also be accepted at Hickey Funeral Home or at Little Flower Church.

We invite people to write their words of remembrance for Patrick to be shared at a reception following Mass at Little Flower’s Parish Hall.

Online comments are also encouraged at:

Published in the South Bend Tribune on 7/25/2008

Guest Book

Thank you all for your loving and supporting spirit.  I need it.



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Julie Titone

    Pat would be very proud of your strength, Nancy.
    I find some comfort in these words from poet Walt Whitman:

    They are alive and well somewhere,
    The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
    And if there ever was, it led forward to life,
    And does not wait at the end to arrest it,
    And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

    hugs from the Northwest

  2. Robin

    Dearest Nancy, Daniel, Joseph, Thomas, and Laura

    I am so very sorry for your lost. From knowing the five of you and reading about him on this site, I know Patrick was a great man. He lives on in all of you.
    I remember the wonderful toys he made out of foam noodles for our Park Days. All the kids loved them.
    I will keep you in my thoughts.


Comments are closed.