August 4, 2014

Loved ones remember ‘joyful’ Rock Hill, Winthrop philanthropist Lib Patrick

Elizabeth “Lib” Louise Dunlap Patrick’s loved ones remember her this week as a faithful contributor to many organizations in York County and as a woman who helped shape her family’s tradition of service to the Rock Hill community. She died Friday at age 78.

Even at her funeral at Rock Hill’s Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, Lib Patrick’s touch was there.

After the recital of scriptures and the singing of songs on Monday morning, Patrick’s friends and family kneeled for communion on the blue, needlepoint pads that she’d hand-stitched.

There, Elizabeth “Lib” Louise Dunlap Patrick’s loved ones remembered her as a faithful contributor to many organizations in York County and as a woman who helped shape her family’s tradition of service to the Rock Hill community.

Patrick died Friday at age 78. Doctors diagnosed her in April 2013 with stage 4 cancer after finding a brain tumor. Although she’d undergone treatments, family members said they understood the cancer would eventually return.

She was in hospice care at the Wayne T. Patrick Hospice House in Rock Hill, a 16-suite home for patients and their visiting family members. The hospice house is named for Lib Patrick’s late husband who died in 2001. Wayne Patrick was owner and publisher of The Herald for 23 years until 1993.

Together, Wayne and Lib – whom many friends called “Libby” – made a significant impact in Rock Hill through philanthropy and their involvement in several organizations, said Terry Plumb, former editor of The Herald.

A prominent family in Rock Hill, the Patricks were often in the spotlight for their generous financial gifts to organizations such as the Arts Council of York County and Winthrop University.

“Clearly, Wayne and Libby were an example for their children of the kind of citizens that every community needs,” Plumb said on Monday.

The Patricks had two daughters: Kathy Patrick Wilson of Rock Hill and Trish McGuinn of Charleston. Patrick is survived by five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

In her family life, Lib Patrick was a loving person who quickly forgave mistakes and “knew how to find the fun in everything,” Wilson said. “As far as she was concerned, family came first.”

Wilson recalled annual family vacations to Edisto Island and trips around the country with her parents. The family’s travels meant “the world was small” and their children benefited from the experiences, she said.

Sometimes it seemed her father worked seven days a week, but her mom made sure the family always ate dinner together – even if the newspaper publisher came home to eat and returned to work, Wilson said.

“He may have been in charge at work,” she said, “but we all knew who was in charge at home.”

Wayne and Lib had a genuine partnership in their marriage, Plumb said, adding, “You really did feel that the two of them were a devoted couple.” They were married for 43 years.

They wed shortly after Lib Patrick graduated from then-Winthrop College. A Rock Hill High School graduate, Lib Patrick grew up in Rock Hill and worked her way through college, side-by-side with her father.

From him, Lib Patrick learned how to make furniture, including the caning of chairs, said Betty Jo Rhea, a friend of the Patricks throughout much of her life.

Rhea, a former Rock Hill mayor, remembers Wayne and Lib dating and later getting married. The two blended their lives to become a couple that “gave so much back” to the community, she said.

Lib Patrick never seemed flustered or stressed by the schedule she kept serving in the community, Rheat said. Instead, Rhea said, “she did it in an easy way. ... She loved life.”

One of Lib Patrick’s greatest passions was working with the York County chapter of the American Red Cross. Through the organization, she taught CPR and first aid techniques and trained other instructors.

She touched hundreds of lives through lessons, volunteering during blood donation drives, and serving as a local American Red Cross board member. Her lifelong contributions were recognized in 1980 when the organization honored her with the Clara Barton Volunteer Award.

The award signified actual time spent volunteering and Lib Patrick’s “sense of public service,” not just financial gifts to the organization, Plumb said. “She earned that award. ... She put in the hours.”

A similar dedication was reflected at the newspaper Wayne Patrick owned, said current president and publisher Debbie Abels. “The Patrick family was the driving force behind The Herald for almost half a century. Both Wayne and Lib played an immense role in this community.”

Lib Patrick’s legacy is evident, Abels said. “Rock Hill lost a great friend in 2001 with Wayne’s death, but Lib’s commitment kept the fire burning.”

At Lib Patrick’s alma mater, the couple’s generosity continues to benefit others. At the Winthrop Ballpark, the press box was named for Wayne Patrick just before his death. The family’s $100,000 contribution helped renovate the stadium.

Winthrop also named one of its galleries after Lib Patrick and she was one of the first people to receive the university’s Medal of Honor for the Arts in 2001. The Patricks had contributed $250,000 for an endowment to support campus art initiatives.

The Elizabeth Dunlap Patrick Gallery Fund supports annual exhibitions, guest lectures, artist residencies and an undergraduate assistantship for aspiring arts students.

Winthrop’s President Emeritus Anthony DiGiorgio said, “It’s the radiant Lib of that gallery opening evening who will always come to mind when I think of her.”

The Patricks “were among the first Rock Hill residents to reach out to Gale and me personally when we arrived at Winthrop 25 years ago,” DiGiorgio said. Passionate about the arts and athletics, she was “joyful, industrious, artistic, generous, spirited, committed – all those words come to mind when one thinks of Lib.”

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