Patricia Ellen (Anderson) Gagne, 82, passed away on August 21, 2020, a day after she had celebrated Joe Biden’s acceptance speech as the Democratic nominee for President.
Patty was a proud and committed liberal Democrat who loved to talk news and politics. Every four years since 1960, Patty was riveted to the television to take in the Democratic Party’s presidential convention. She sobbed in 1964 as Bobby Kennedy stood for a 22-minute ovation repressing his grief for our fallen president. Forty-four years later, tears of joy consumed her when Barack Obama stepped to the podium in Denver.
Joe’s nomination brought elation, too. While beset with dementia, Patty could recall the photos two of her sons had taken of the freshman U.S. Senator when he visited Bristol Central High School in May 1974.
Patty was born in Bristol on October 6, 1937 to Mary Connolly Anderson (later Hall) and Harold Anderson, both of whom predeceased her. She also was predeceased by her stepfather, Dwight H. Hall, Jr.
Patty grew up an only child, cherishing the raucous social gatherings of the large Connolly clan and the attentions of four aunts and five uncles she adored. As a teenager, Patty spent a year in Atlanta, Georgia, where she witnessed the everyday dehumanization of Black people by Jim Crow. It remained forever seared in her brain.
Patty encouraged her three sons to be good and decent and fair. She instilled in them a deep sense of social and racial justice, and to treat everyone with respect and dignity.
Patty raised her three sons on Lillian Road, the projects, in Bristol. She and the other moms kept watch over one another’s kids and cracked down when they stepped out of line. And despite the lengthy, debilitating periods of depression and chemical dependency with which she grappled, Patty pushed her kids to work hard, do well in school and to excel at everything they did, while never ever forgetting where they grew up.
Years later, with her addictions behind her, Patty would instill those same values and work ethic in her grandchildren, especially her three granddaughters who remained devoted to her until her passing.
Patty graduated from Bristol High School, and liked to say she had an advanced degree from the School of Hard Knocks. She was a voracious reader of biographies and mysteries. Sunbathing was a most favorite pastime.
She loved jazz vocalists, Motown and the Beatles. And she, along with her former husband Norm Gagne, a jazz pianist, made sure music was a daily part of their kids’ lives. Patty’s own pitch-perfect vocals were a cue to her family that she was in a good space that day. Years later, she would accompany her sons to Aldo’s in Hartford to see jazz vocalists Rebecca Parris and Dianne Reeves, and sing a cappella on the car ride home. Patty relished rich conversation and uproarious laughter over a good meal made by her mother, with whom she lived in Plainville after her retirement from The Hartford.
Patty is survived by: sons Bill and his wife, Mary, of Bristol; Jack and his wife, Liz Plonka, of Fenwick, Connecticut and Sarasota, Florida; and Bobby and his wife, Sally, of St. Paul, Minnesota; granddaughters Jennifer Gagne; Christine Gagne and partner Brandon Bresson; and Megan Metheny and her spouse, Justin Metheny; and grandsons John and his wife Jenna Gagne; Matthew; Nathan and Joe. Patty was enormously proud of the fine adults each of her grandkids had become. She also is survived by great-grandchildren Alexandrea, Aubrey and Dominic.
The family wishes to thank the health care and service professionals at Apple Rehab in Watertown for their daily care and attention for Patty. Arrangements are entrusted to O’Brien Funeral Home of Forestville. A celebration of Patty’s life and the legacy assumed by her sons and grandchildren will occur after light and decency enter the White House and COVID-19 is vanquished — just as Patty would have wanted. "Natch."