I would like to start out by saying that I am sure everyone here at the memorial service felt that Patty was their best friend. She had a "nature" about her that made you feel "you were important" when talking with her.
With that said, I met Patty 4 years ago and she became a director of our ASA here in Georgia. The next year, she became one of our officers --- recording secretary.
Although that was her official title, she was also an amazing advocate for people on the Spectrum.
She was a friend and inspired all who came in contact with her.
Patty would travel throughout the state, volunteering her time to help educators, parents and professionals understand the world she lived in.
She traveled to other states, too, attending national conferences, taking notes, speaking, and taking part by being on a panel of individuals on the Spectrum.
As one of her "colleagues" Phil Swarz describes her --- and I cannot think of better words myself --- he said Patty is one with practical common sense wisdom - she knew how to work within the system.
I think there has not been a day that has gone by that one of us at ASA Georgia did not receive Patty's incredible insights, either through the emails she sent or by phone or in person. She kept up to date on current treatments, legislative issues, and individual cases in the news of people with autism who were in trouble. Right up to the last, she kept advocating. She was scheduled to speak at the national ASA conference in Tennessee when she had her stroke.
There were many people at the conference - 1600 knew Patty - and they held moments of silence in her honor.
Patty's example is a real part of ASA Georgia.
My name is Donna and I have worked in the ASA Greater Georgia Chapter office since the spring of '98.
The first time I met Patty she was speaking at one of our annual conferences. As I listened to her, I immediately related to many of the experiences she had gone through in her growing up and adult life. At that time, I had no idea how much help Patty would be giving to me as I tried to learn about autism and help the hundreds of people who contacted me at the office.
If we needed a volunteer to go talk to a group of foster moms in inner city Atlanta, she was always the first one to volunteer.
If we needed someone to attend a health fair and give out our brochures, she would volunteer, even though - as she put it - she would rather have a root canal.
If I got a call from a parent whose teenager was in trouble, or if her child was having trouble with medications, I knew I could call on Patty for help.
One of the things I remember was when she said she would like to attend a luncheon where legislative issues about adult services would be discussed. I emailed her back that "it" was too late, that the luncheon had already taken place. Her response just made me laugh and smile. She said she always did have a problem figuring out just when "it" was.
I am not sure how to run the office without Patty as my back up and encourager, but ever since she left I kept reminding myself that I have to try my best, because that's what Patty always did.