Patricia Ann (Jones) Houseman passed away Thursday, March 8, 2012, with family holding her hands and loving her into heaven. She was born January 22, 1941 in Kewanee, IL (Hog capital of the world) to Bernard and Hazel (Fiscus) Jones. Her family moved to Decatur, MI in 1955, where the love of her life, Henry Frank Houseman, noticed her in the local drug store in 1958. He asked the clerk who she was after she left, and was told "Patty Jones, and she goes to Western." Henry then spent the next three weeks searching for her at every dorm, sorority and rooming house in Kalamazoo, until someone mentioned that she was living on Sally's Alley (Bellevue Place). Today, this would be called aggravated stalking. Then, it was just love at first sight. Henry and Pat had their first date on October 3, 1958, but only because he asked her out for an actual dinner, not just a soda like the rest of her MANY male fans. Fast forward five years, and she was married with three kids under the age of 3, working part-time at the Red Roof in Portage, and going to school full time.
Pat received her BA and MA degrees in education from Western Michigan University. She began her career teaching English and reading in Battle Creek, Mattawan and Decatur, MI. In 1974, she moved into the organized labor side of education, and served as a bargainer in Three Rivers and Jackson, MI. From 1977 to 1988, she worked for the MEA as Uniserv Director in Hillsdale and Three Rivers. She lead constituent groups in collective bargaining, arbitration, organizing, representation, leadership training, community relations and effective communications. Her greatest accomplishment during that time was organizing a highly successful coalition strike in Cassopolis, which led to the recall of a majority of the school board.
She was elected as president of the United Staff Organization at the MEA in East Lansing from 1988 to 1994. She lead diverse affiliate groups in collective bargaining, grievance processing, arbitration, representation and political action. Special accomplishments included the development and coordination of USO's 1992 bargaining plan, crisis and strike preparation…though no strike was held until after her retirement.
Professional recognitions include: Susan B. Anthony award by the MEA Women's Caucus, Maurine Wyatt Feminist Award by the MEA, first recipient of the Creative Leadership in Women's Rights award by the National Education Association for her significant contributions in women's rights and for activities furthering the achievement of equal opportunity for women and girls, Outstanding Woman Educator Award by the Michigan Women Trial Lawyers Association, E. Dale Kennedy award for public relations activities by the MEA. She absolutely LOVED her career, flourished as a professional in that field, and was a founding member of the "Swat-ettes" with dear friends Gretchen and Lillian.
She served on a number of volunteer boards and committees: Portage Public Library Board (where she worked to plan the funding and building of the current library in 1976), MI Reading Association, Women's Government Council, MEA Public Affairs Council, Kalamazoo County Democratic Party, Michigan Democratic Women's Caucus, Kalamazoo chapter of the National Organization for Women (chairwoman), NOW's Education Task Force (chairwoman) MEA Women's Caucus (president), State Board of Education's task force on sexism (chairwoman), and Lee County Democratic Party. She was a tireless supporter of Title IX, and worked hard to ensure parity between boys and girls sports. She served as an alternate delegate for the 1976 presidential democratic convention, and proudly volunteered to support the candidacies of Rep. Mary Brown, Rep. Howard Wolpe, Gov. Jim Blanchard and Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
In 1996, Pat and Henry relocated to Ft. Myers, FL, where she served as Service Unit Director for the Florida Teachers Association. Henry enjoyed his second retirement, and "Honus" continued to work hard to keep him in the lifestyle to which he had become accustomed. She retired for her second and final time in 2001.
Above and beyond all the accolades and accomplishments, Pat's real passion was for her family. She and her Honus kept every letter and card they ever sent to each other in their courtship and early married days. There were poor days, and hard days, and work days, and great days and sad days, and travel days…all in abundance in the nearly 52 years they were married. Each other's best friends, and invented the "double kiss." They raised two fine women, who try to exemplify her example of hard work, determination, volunteerism, feminism (NOT a dirty word), education, fierce devotion and loyalty, and a wanderlust for travel. Henry and Pat traveled to dozens of countries, and learned how to say "french fries" in at least a dozen languages.
She leaves us bereft and heartbroken, and we miss her terribly already. Pat was preceded in death by her parents, and her son David Henry Houseman, who is now again with his mommy. Surviving are her husband, Honus, best friend, drinking buddy, travel companion, democratic partner-in-crime, and once-in-a-millennium love of her life, Henry; daughters Sara Beth Houseman (Tom Orr), Rachel Susan Houseman; brother-in-law Lewis Houseman (Loraine); sisters-in-law Dorothy Nelson and Elsie Fleming; granddaughters Nicole Zimmerman Devine (Sean) and Danielle Zimmerman; great-granddaughters Fiona Ann and Bridget Rose Devine; step-brother Don Lynch; nieces, nephews, and numerous cousins; and dear friend Lillian Stoner.
Cremation has taken place. Family and friends are welcome to join together Sunday, March 11, from 2 – 4 pm at the home of Sara Houseman and Tom Orr, 4810 Valleywood Drive, Portage, MI. There will be a celebration of life and memorial service on May 5, from 2 – 4 pm, at the Portage Public Library. Immediately following the celebration, there will be a New Orleans jazz band second-line parade to the Portage Central Cemetery, adjacent to the library. The family requests no flowers, but memorial contributions may be made to Planned Parenthood, Stabenow for Senate, Rose Harbor Hospice or Habitat for Humanity. She was SO loved…
Read Patricia Houseman's Obituary and Guestbook on www.langelands.com.