Cover photo for Patricia F. (Edridge) Utzschneider's Obituary
Patricia F. (Edridge) Utzschneider Profile Photo
1928 Patricia 2020

Patricia F. (Edridge) Utzschneider

May 5, 1928 — December 23, 2020

Shrewsbury - Patricia Frances Utzschneider, affectionately known as "Oma," passed away in her home in Shrewsbury, MA, with her loving husband Rudolf (Rudy) and family by her side on December 23, 2020.

Born in the Bronx, New York on May 5th,1928, Patricia was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Edridge, who were both immigrants from Newfoundland. The second of five children, she grew up in a modest home in the Bronx and graduated from Cathedral High School in New York City. She earned a Nursing degree from White Plains Hospital School of Nursing in 1949. She worked as an operating room nurse for two years before continuing her education at Mary Immaculate in Long Island to become a nurse anesthetist. While working as a nurse anesthetist at Elizabeth General Hospital in Elizabeth NJ, she met Rudy Utzschneider, who was visiting for a year from Munich Germany on a rotating internship. After marrying in 1955, they lived in Munich for one year. Rudy then completed his four year residency at St. Vincent Hospital before settling in Shrewsbury in 1960 where they raised their nine children.

Patricia was a nurturing soul, and her need to care for and encourage the growth of others became the basis for how she lived her life. It drove her decision at a young age to pursue a career in nursing. It is why she raised such a large family, and when her children had mostly moved out of the house, she then volunteered at The Pernet Family Health Service to help low-income families get started with their own lives. Her nurturing soul was most apparent in her love for food and feeding others. Patricia was always happiest when she was feeding someone, and throughout her life she mastered the art of feeding a crowd. Her home was always centered around a long kitchen table that could seat up to 15, oftentimes with her mother "Grammy" holding court at one end of the table for many years. Patricia loved Bavarian food, and dishes like spӓetzle, pfannkuchen, and stollen were staples at their big white house on Prospect Street in Shrewsbury. Every week during Lent she had a "$2 night" where she fed her family a modest meal and donated the savings to Pernet.

Patricia nurtured souls as well, serving as a calming source of advice and love for family members and strangers alike. She was a brilliant correspondent, writing hundreds of cards and letters every year, each one having that perfect turn of phrase or joke that would lift the reader's spirits. She loved to celebrate holidays because doing so made people feel special and happy, and her home was always adorned with decorations and flowers for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, or the arrival of a new season. She loved Oktoberfest, and she and Rudy hosted many pig roasts in their backyard for neighbors and friends, complete with a tent and dirndls and lederhosen for all of their children.

All nine of Patricia and Rudy's children graduated from college, but Patricia was easily the smartest person in the Utzschneider family. She obtained her first library card at the age of five and was still borrowing books from Shrewsbury Public Library this past year. (One of the reasons they bought the house on Prospect Street was because of its close proximity to the library.) Patricia was always reading. She completed the New York Times crossword puzzle every day, even up to this past year when her body began to fail her. Patricia was more than simply book-smart because she was gifted with an incredibly quick and sometimes acerbic wit. She could create jokes and puns out of thin air regardless of the situation, and she loved to talk and exchange ideas with people. She always had something interesting to say and was a thoughtful and empathetic listener.

Patricia had a deep, lifelong spiritual faith in God and the Roman Catholic Church. She was a parishioner of Saint Mary's Church in Shrewsbury for 60 years. Patricia, herself a product of Catholic schools, sent all of her children to either Saint Marys, Saint Johns, or Notre Dame Academy. If the family went away for a weekend trip skiing or on their boat, she would make sure they could get home in time for the Sunday evening masses at either Saint Ann's or Saint Rose of Lima. When Patricia and Rudy were away traveling together, she always tried to make sure they would be in a harbor or a town on Sundays where they could attend Mass.

Patricia knew and venerated her saints. Saint Patrick was her patron saint, so for her Saint Paddy's Day started with Mass before serving up green food to her green-costumed family in her green-decorated house. As part of a German tradition she adopted, Patricia would stay up late for many nights prior to December 5th, the feast of St. Nicholas, writing clever, detailed poems about each child, reflecting how the children behaved during the year. For years, friends would dress up as St. Nicholas, pay a visit to their house and read these detailed poems out loud to the children. Patricia would always write "Happy Saint Valentine's Day" on the cards she would write for friends and family every February 14th.

The most important part of Patricia's life was her 65 year marriage to her beloved Rudy. No couple has ever been in love with each other as much as Patricia and Rudy were in love with each other. They liked to joke about how their marriage was one ongoing honeymoon, and it is true. For the last 40 years, they spent almost all day, every day together, first when Rudy started his own medical practice in 1980 and Patricia became his office manager, and then when they shared retirement and cruised up and down the Atlantic seaboard on their boats Selchie and Selchie II (named by Patricia after a mythical Irish mermaid, because she could only take so much German), and then finally in their later years, when they nurtured each other as their health slowly declined.

Patricia loved that Rudy practiced General and Vascular Surgery at St. Vincent's Hospital for 40 years. Patricia loved that Rudy was a woodworker who built most of the furniture in their home. Patricia loved Rudy's passion for boats and how they used them together to explore the world. In turn, Rudy loved Patricia's humor, her intelligence, and her wit. Rudy loved Patricia's faith, which helped provide him with his own spiritual foundation after growing up in a country during war. Rudy loved how Patricia was happiest when she was feeding a crowd and would sit back and watch in awe as 20 people sat down to one of her holiday feasts, their plates always pre-warmed because Patricia hated the idea of someone eating cold food.

Patricia and Rudy were never apart for long because they fit so well together.

Their shared passion for boating began during their honeymoon on Garnet Lake in the Adirondacks in 1955 when they rigged a pillowcase to a rowboat in order to sail it across the lake. Patricia and Rudy owned six boats together, ranging from small runabouts to an ocean-going trawler, the aforementioned Selchie II. They logged thousands of miles together exploring Atlantic waters from the Bahamas to the maritime provinces of Canada, first with their young family on board and later as a retired couple. Patricia was a steady hand on the boat, a skilled navigator, and always stood watch in the fog and during overnight passages. She was also a very resourceful cook in a usually rocky galley. She invented clever games and activities to keep her children occupied underway and rewarded the kids after a long passage with an ice cream treat in port.

Orbiting around Patricia and Rudy's great love for each other is a boisterous, far-flung immediate family of 50 people – children, spouses, grandchildren, and great grandchildren – who all relied upon Patricia to be their emotional rock, a role that she welcomed every day. Patricia experienced a particular sense of joy in her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She loved how her adult-aged grandchildren ("the cousins") stayed connected with each other regardless of where they lived in the world. She viewed each new baby, including babies Emma and Tara who arrived in the family in 2020, as a gift from God. Today, a ten-foot long world map hangs on Patricia and Rudy's kitchen wall to help them keep track of everyone in the family. Even in her last months, Patricia could walk up to the map and easily point out exactly where every person in her extended family was at that moment.

Patricia and Rudy raised their children to work hard, to excel in school, and to explore the world. With three girls and six boys, their home was always a beehive of activity filled with games, chores, sports, and special projects ranging from boatbuilding to baking. Patricia was very supportive of the kids' interest in sports, particularly skiing at Ward Hill, where every weekend most of the Utzschneider clan could be seen emptying out of their beloved station wagon, with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all packed for the day. Their home was filled with love, curiosity, and a sense of purpose.

In addition to her parents and Rudy's parents, Patricia will join her brother, Thomas Edridge and her sister, Eileen Clinton in heaven. She is survived by her sisters Joan Sherlock and Lorraine Nims.

She leaves her husband, Rudy, their nine children: Susanne M. Boeke (Jef) of New York City, Robert L. (Catharine) of Chestnut Hill, Richard T. (Sigrid) of Einberg, Germany, John R. (Alice Eng) of Northborough, James M. (Jenna Miller) of Mercer Island, WA, David A. (Gordana) of Baltimore MD, Patricia M. of Northfield MA, Lisa M. (Okan Azmak) of Greenwich, CT and Peter B. (Adrienne Sutton) of Northborough; twenty-six loving grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Given these extraordinary times, services will be held privately on Saturday, January 9, 2021 at 11 a.m. Anyone wishing to view the service remotely can access the simulcast at https://my.gather.app/remember/patricia-f-edridge-utzschneider on or after that time. Burial in Mountain View Cemetery will be at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Pernet Family Health Service (www.pernetfamilyhealth.org) 237 Millbury St, Worcester MA 01610.

Arrangements by James & John Heald.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020 – a note from the funeral home pursuant to Governor Baker's recent order:

During times of uncertainty and crisis one might wonder what to do at the loss of a loved one or how to show support to a friend given the limitations that the pandemic continues to present.

Telephone your friend to offer words of love, support and a verbal hug, drop something delicious by the house, leave a condolence on the funeral home website, make a donation to their favored charity, send a card or flowers or have a Mass said, remain in touch, and above all else . . . say prayers for the deceased and their family and the world during this difficult and unprecedented time.

These simple gifts of sympathy and charity are more valuable than you will ever know.

When public wakes are held capacity limits mean that your visit to the funeral home should be brief to allow other guests time to say hello to the family. Only members of the immediate family remain present throughout.

It goes without saying that people who have lost someone are especially sensitive and understanding to the concerns that some of their own family members and friends may have about visiting any public places right now. If this does not feel like the right time for you to venture out please don't.

Space limitations also mean that funeral services inside the funeral home and in many places of worship will also be private. Most services, at the family's request, will also be livestreamed and recorded for future viewing. The link to access the channel is found at the bottom of the obituary notice online.

Cemetery services are included in the current outdoor gathering limit of twenty-five people.

During any events, public or private, common sense precautions prevail. That includes masks covering your nose and mouth, staying with your household group throughout the services and keeping a sensible distance.

Thank you . . . again . . . for your patience and understanding.
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