Obituary for Patricia L. Winchester

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Patricia Lucille (McGraw) Winchester passed from this life to the next to join her beloved husband of nearly 57 years on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. Harry very reluctantly preceded her on June 18, 2018.
Pat was born on April 7, 1933 to Edwin George and Emma Agnes (Bebee) McGraw in Delaware County IA, the 8th of 9 children. Mom had many stories of growing up in a large Irish farm family across the road from the Catholic Church and general store (which her parents ran for a time).
There were many hardships during and after the great depression and Mom learned well the value of "reduce-reuse-recycle" as a child.
"Patty Lou" was sick as a child, battling osteomyelitis until eventually losing her leg below the knee at the age of 21 as a result of gangrene after hip surgery. Her body bore several other scars, reminders of its fierce battle with the infection. Ironically, she wrote a grade school paper on the"Miracle Drug", penicillin, which would later be in short supply when she needed it most, making it unavailable to her.
Despite this "handicap" (she once got indignant over the term "disabled", saying she was handicapped and that was ok... It didn't make her more special or less important), Mom earned degrees in social work and as a lab technician. She worked at Delaware County Hospital in Manchester until moving to LaCrosse, WI in 1965.
Pat met Harry while chaperoning her minor niece, who was in a band with Harry. They were married on May 12, 1962 in Manchester, and three girls soon joined the family. They moved to LaCrosse in 1965, where a son was born.
Shortly after this move, Mom met her best friend, Barb, fostering a friendship full of unconditional love, laughter, heartache, shared sorrows, and joy. Barb was a great comfort to Mom, especially over the last several years as she became more homebound. They shared a love of Scrabble, great literature, and lively, deep discussion (often "laughing like schoolgirls", as Mom said).
Mom worked seasonally for H&R Block for several years, then returned to being a "stay at home mom", becoming a licensed day care provider.
Besides her husband and parents, Pat was also preceded in death by four brothers: Ray (Raymond Thomas), Dennie (John Dennis), Bob (Robert Paul), and Bill (William Joseph); 1 sister: Rosie (Frances Rosemary); a son in law: Pat Gagermeier; and an unborn great grandchild. She is survived by three sisters, Arlene (Mildred Arlene) Meyers, Ruth (Ruth Ann) Falconer, and Joan (Joan Elizabeth) Gudenkauf.
She is also survived by her children: Cathy (Chris) Dresen, Denise (Keith) Rhodes, Chris (Brian) Shepardson, and Marty (Ann) Winchester; eight grandchildren: Deanna (Alex) Sharon, Brian Hanson, Travis Winchester, Emily Dresen, Erin (John) Wiemerslage, James Dresen, Tiffany Winchester, and Kaitlin Dresen; and three great grandchildren: Lexi, Erik, and Dylan.
Many children and families were positively impacted by her loving care, compassion, and individual attention, including much loved nieces and nephews, neighbors and day care families, as well as the various friends we all brought home. "Grandma Pat" was loved by most who met her. She had a dry sense of humor, which she could exercise without cracking a smile, an Irish temper, and an abundance of determination and "can do" attitude, which served her well.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be on Monday, January 28th at 10:30 a.m. at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 1031 Main Street, Onalaska. Monsignor Delbert Malin will officiate. Friends may visit with the family on Monday at the church from 9:30 a.m. until time of services.
The Dickinson Family Funeral Home & Crematory is assisting the family with arrangements.
We will always miss you, Mom. You helped shape many lives and made us who we are. Your dedication, love, and perseverance despite the odds taught us many valuable lessons, which we humbly hope to pass on to future generations. Although our hearts are shattered right now, we're glad that Dad gets to be with his "bride" again. We love you forever...