Patricia Clegg Hawkes


Patricia (Pat) Clegg Hawkes of West Tisbury died peacefully on Oct. 22, 2017, at the Royal Nursing Home in Buzzards Bay.

People are surprised to learn that this very British woman was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1924. Pat was only a few weeks old when her family moved back to England. She grew up in Wallasey, Cheshire, in northwest England, where she got her deep love of the sea and a bit of North Country skepticism and thriftiness. Her school, Wallasey High School for Girls, was damaged by German bombs when Britain entered WW II, but Pat was able to graduate from there in 1941. As part of the war effort, Pat moved to London to study nursing at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital School of Nursing.

While at “Bart’s”, Pat met her future husband, Peter, a dashing young medical student with thick, wavy black hair. In order to work on the same ward, they kept their engagement a secret until they married in 1946. England was still under rationing, so Pat had to save her coupons to buy her wedding outfit. In 1948 and 1953 respectively, their son Robert and daughter Jane were born at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.

In 1958, the family boarded the RMS Queen Elizabeth and headed to America. After a few moves, the family settled in Connecticut in 1961, first in New Britain, and finally in Southington. Pat quickly involved herself in a number of volunteer activities. Her nursing skills came in handy when she served for several years as captain of the day at local Red Cross bloodmobiles. At the same time she became an active member of the St. Martha’s Guild with St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

An avid gardener with keen interests in horticulture, conservation, and flower arranging, Pat joined the New Britain Garden Club in in the early 1960s. A tireless worker, she was elected Garden Club president for three terms: 1966-68, 1972-74, and 1990-92. Pat was highly regarded for her skill in flower arranging, particularly for her subtle Japanese-like style. Her arrangements were always striking and often whimsical. She was awarded the silver bowl (the top honor in the annual New Britain Garden Club flower show) in 1974, 1978, 1989, 1991, 1996, and 2007.

Pat was a great supporter of the arts, and a dedicated volunteer with the Women’s Committee of the New Britain Museum of American Art for many years. Her work at the museum took on many forms, from staffing the gift shop, helping with fundraisers, to entering data on the computer. Each Christmas the N.B. Garden Club would decorate a tree for the museum’s festival of trees. Pat and a few other garden club members created ornaments and whimsical figures using only natural materials like teasels, honesty, pussy willows, milkweed pods, etc. The tree became so popular that Pat and her dear friend Jane Darnell set about co-writing a how-to book on making these ornaments. Pat also drew the illustrations. Their book, “Pods & Odd Bodikins,” was published in 1979. (Pat and this same friend could often be found at construction sites seeking out and digging up wildflowers to save them from the bulldozers’ paths.)

A lifelong advocate for exercise, Pat enjoyed yoga, water aerobics, cross-country skiing, and swimming. At age 40, Pat took up golf, in part to spend more time with her husband. At first struggling to complete nine holes, Pat persevered and soon went on to play full rounds of 18. Eventually, she became good enough to win several local tournaments at the Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington, Conn.

When not playing outside or volunteering, Pat enjoyed travelling with her husband. Their trips included golf in Scotland, a barge trip along the canals through France, a trans-Canada train journey, and many forays through the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, and Southern areas of the U.S.

She continued to enjoy all these activities through her early 80s. In the fall of 2007, Peter retired, and the couple moved to Martha’s Vineyard. Unfortunately, ill health severely limited Pat after the move. Still, she still enjoyed bird watching, reading books from the West Tisbury library, and, of course, a bit of gardening. Each Christmas Pat continued the tradition and decorated a small tree with her beloved pods and odd bodikins.

Pat is survived by husband Peter, son Robert of Cleveland, Ohio, daughter Jane and her partner Allison McKinley of West Tisbury; grandson Sebastian Orr and his fiancé Lucy Horns of Chicago, Ill.; and daughters-in-law Penny Orr of Chardon, Ohio, and Sue Soltis of Cleveland.

The family wishes to express their deep gratitude to the following people who showed Pat great kindness and care over these past few years: Lara Uva and Elizabeth Rohr of the VNA; caregivers Katie Vieira and Sarah Toste; Sandy Corr-Dolby of Horizons Geriatric Care Management; all the West Tisbury EMTs and Sgt. Garrison Vieira; all the kind folk at the Lab, ER, and Acute Care of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital; Dr. Julia Stunkel; and finally all the lovely caregivers at the Henrietta Brewer House.

Donations may be made in her memory to the West Tisbury Public Library, the New Britain Museum of American Art, or the Humane Society of the United States.

No service will be held.