Patricia “Patti” Unarose Johnson Hoekema
Patricia Unarose Johnson Hoekema, Born November 9, 1931, Great Falls, Montana.
Patti Hoekema of Wasilla passed quietly from this world during the early morning hours of June 6, 2020. Patti was a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who was an accomplished seamstress, knitter, crocheter and embroiderer. She worked in various jobs over the years, most notably in retail sales, as a bookkeeper for her husband’s machine shop business and as a real estate agent in Washington state. Patti married Roy Paul Hoekema on June 25, 1949 in Spokane, Washington. Had she lived, they would have celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary this month.
We are all grateful beyond measure that a determined and caring medical team gave us what amounted to an additional year with this wonderful woman. Our sincere thanks to Ellen Lentz, ANP, Dr. Brian Scully, Dr. Ravi Shergill, and Candy Flores, CMA. During that year, Patti celebrated her 70th wedding anniversary with a large family dinner at a local restaurant and a wonderful trip to Maui with her husband, all three of her children and her son-in-law. While in Hawaii, she also celebrated her 88th birthday at the Old Lahaina Luau.
How does one eulogize someone who was literally or figuratively one half of oneself? This is the question asked by Roy, her spouse of nearly 71 years, and her four children, Molly Palmer of Anchorage, Charlotte (Mike) Rancourt and Paul (Diane Carlow) Hoekema of Wasilla, and Houkje (Frans) Bonnema Tjallema of The Netherlands. We all loved and admired her. We all teased and tormented her. We all miss her fiercely, as do her natural and adopted seventeen grandchildren and forty-five great-grandchildren.
Patti’s family each chose one word to describe her. Paul said she was loving. This is evidenced by the vast number of people whose lives she touched. So many have reached out to the family to express their grief at her passing and to tell us stories of how our mother’s loving nature impacted their lives. Strangers were just friends she hadn’t met yet. She loved her family above all and delighted in doing things for them, such as knitting or crocheting hats or scarves or slippers or cooking abundant meals for them.
Charlotte said her Mom was strong. She had strong opinions and strong emotions and was unafraid of expressing either. She could debate her opinions with the best of us and shed glad tears when good things happened to us and sad tears when the bad times came. When her physical strength failed her, Patti had strength of character and enormous strength of constitution as she battled an illness that made it difficult to breathe. Her strength made it possible for her to continue to love her family and serve her community for nearly all of her final days.
The first word Houkje mentioned was joy. Her ‘Mum’ was a joy to spend time with. Houkje spent a year with Patti and Roy as an exchange student in 1968-69. Though she returned to The Netherlands, she is still an integral part of the family. When she lived in the US as their child, she says that Mum was ever helpful, quick to console and made everyone feel welcome and comfortable. She brought love to her entire family.
Molly chose to describe her Mom as generous. She was generous with her love, generous with her strength and generous with her time. Her love came in the form of numerous hugs, keeping in touch, those wonderful meals, and gift after gift of her time as she created hats, scarves, slippers, headbands, sweaters, aprons, socks, wreaths, personalized Christmas tree ornaments and more for all of the people in and outside of her family for whom she cared. She canned food and generously shared it with all. She propagated flowers and vegetables and generously shared the seeds. Up until the last two weeks of her life she was making masks for friends and family to help protect them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Excellent!” was the word Patti’s husband, Roy, chose. She was excellent in every way. She was an excellent wife, partner, mother, and friend. She was an excellent shot when she competed in trap shooting. She was an excellent pet ‘Mommy,’ too, as she doted on their two little dogs, Gizmo and Zoie. She had an excellent sense of humor and both she and Roy credited that quality in each other as being required for a long and happy marriage. Patti was also an excellent cook and the scent of her fresh homemade bread has been known to bring mortals to their knees to beg for a slice.
Patricia was preceded in death by her parents, a brother, a sister, and her twin infant sons. To honor her memory, please consider donations of cash or goods to “My House” of Wasilla (http://myhousematsu.org/), a favorite charity of Patti’s, or to your local food bank to honor her fondness for feeding her family and friends. A private celebration of life was held at her home by her family.