Ted Beatty is one of Patrick’s closest friends, one he has spent countless hours paddling together. Ted so eloquently delivered the main eulogy at Pat’s funeral. Here are his words:
Patrick Sawyer July 27, 2008
Nancy asked that I take a few moments today to talk about what Patrick has given to so many of us.
I knew Pat for less time than many people here—just the past 5 years—but as with many of you, Pat left an indelible mark.
He was a friend to many of us, but Pat was also something much more: he was—he is—a model. A model of living in this world, a model of living in and giving to a community, a model of living among friends, and a model of living with family.
Among many many memories that lie scrambled in my head this week, four charactistics stand out, that for me, capture part of what Pat modelled.
1) Connections. Pat connected with people, he connected people with each other, and his belief in the power of human relations lay at the center of networks of people across South Bend, Michiana, and indeed the country.
The first time I met Pat – not surprisingly, on the water, here on the St. Joe river about a 100 yards above the Darden Road bridge – I couldn’t figure out what to make of him. Here was this guy interrupting my peaceful and precious hour drifting alone on the water – he was sitting in the oddest looking boat I’d ever seen at that point, and he kept chatting, and asking questions despite my efforts to be a bit brusk and shake him off. Within 5 minutes we knew we both had 4 kids and a bit more in common, and not long thereafter I had a new passion, a community of people I felt connected to throughout northern Indiana, and, of course, one of the best friends I’ll ever have.
Connecting with people came naturally to Pat (and I know I am far from alone in feeling this)—it was just a part of his personality. But it was also something that he believed in deeply – an “ethos” of his – the importance of building communities, of linking people together. This was the essense of his world, and of giving back to the world.
2) Generosity. I know few people—perhaps no one—more generous than Pat.
Pat gave generously to this community: he paddled the length of the St. Joe River to raise awareness for river conservation; he and Nancy established the Paddlefest canoe and kayak races on the St. Joe River (now thriving in its 8th year); Pat gave time and instruction on the river, in nursing school, and on the street…and much much more. Among many such memories, here’s one small one: the week after he stopped work two years ago Pat sought out a man who had been living, homeless, along the river and gave him his insulated coveralls.
Pat’s great passion of course, was paddling. When Pat spoke of paddling, and of how it came into his life, it was clear to me that he saw it as a gift. He would talk of how it had enriched his life immeasurably, had broadened his horizons, had challenged him and allowed him to challenge himself. But Pat’s sense of this gift was tied intimately to the people who gave it to him – many (most) of whom are here today. This was a gift that was given him by specific people, who reached out, who took time to teach him and paddle with him. He always spoke with humility and deep gratefulness of the older generation of paddlers around Indiana and beyond who have for the last several decades run races and brought people into the sport.
And it was very much part of Pat’s ethos – his sense of what is right – that he worked selflessly to pass it on. This was an essential part of Pat’s life: to give as much, and when possible, much more than he received.
I came to realize only slowly, for instance, that Pat sacrificed his own training for the better part of a year to bring a number of us into this sport – to share his love for the river; to share the work and the challenge and the beauty of boat and water together.
And I know that what many of us have seen through paddling with Pat, what others here have seen in other spheres and other periods of Pat’s life.
3) Intensity. Whatever Pat did – paddle, swim, bicycle, study, work, parent, try to whip his aging friends into some semblance of racing shape – he did with a deep and inevitable intensity.
This was not an intensity simply built on the desire to be the best and to win (though he did not lose often), and it was certainly not an arrogant intensity. Just the opposite: it was an intensity built on the humble belief of how he should live his life: giving everything he could to those around him, getting the most out of whatever abilities he was born with, embracing each opportunity he chose to pursue with a passion.
I know we all have stories—humorous and otherwise—about Pat’s intensity and passion. I spent many 100s of hours paddling with him – or I should say behind him, struggling to keep pace, and of course not talking (“If you can talk,” he’d say, “you’re not paddling hard enough”). Many of us of us have done the same—paddled in his wake—but we were never left alone. This too was part of his belief, his ethos: to stay with us—coaching, yelling, encouraging, and just modelling—but never pulling away. I never have figured out how he knew exactly the pace that would leave me exhausted and panting but still right on his tail. That was Pat through and through: deep connections, selflessly generous, and seriously intense.
He knew it, of course, at least the intense part, and I can remember occasions of teasing him a bit about his intensity, and he’d kind of look out into space with the slightest bit of a grin, thinking to himself, I am sure: “yeah, I’m a bit crazy, but that isnt going to change soon….”
4) Family. Many of us here knew Pat through school or work or paddling or a community group….but more than anything else, Pat was about his family: Nancy, Daniel, Joey, Tommy, and Laura.
On long car rides to races he would talk about them, worry about them, delight in them, and express his love of just being with them. It didn’t take me long to realize that Pat’s preference for 5 am paddles was not simply because he wanted to deprive his friends of sleep, but because he just wanted to spend more reasonable hours of the day with his family…and I listened to him many times dream out loud about the things he looked forward to doing with his children.
At the center of family for Pat was his love and his respect and his admiration for Nancy. So many times, in so many different kinds of conversations and in different ways, it was clear to me that whatever he did was in some way linked to Nancy’s support, advice, ideas, friendship, and love.
Pat was an extraordinary person, an extraordinarily beautiful person. One evening, not too many weeks ago I was standing on the deck of a restaurant on a bluff, high above the river just behind the IUSB campus. As I watched the sun move lower in the sky, a paddler appeared around the bend. I saw right away that it was Pat—a combination of grace and power in motion that could be no one else. I watched until he disappeared around the next bend upriver.
That was Pat—grace and power and beauty in all he did. He was—he still is—a gift to his family, to his friends, and to this community. I know that this gift will continue to be right here, with many of us, in many different ways.
Thank you, Ted!
I love you.