[Tweeters] Patricia (Patrice) Lott (long & personal)

Gina Sheridan gsherida8502 at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 29 18:17:26 PDT 2008

Almost exactly a year ago, the birding community was mourning the great loss of Patrick Sullivan. Now we find ourselves grieving for yet another dear birder friend, Patricia Lott.

Please forgive my indulgence in sometimes referring to Patricia as Patrice. Patricia is certainly a very nice name, but I couldn't help but coin and employ the nickname Patrice for her. I just thought she deserved a classy moniker that was unique to her.

While growing up in Iowa, Patricia was imbued with an uncommonly beautiful singing voice. Her talent led her to a career as an international opera star. Patrice would sometimes regale me with many of her favorite stories of a romantic living style in Paris, performing in competitive Germany, and taking in the rich culture of Italy.

Although there was much hard work involved, and the operatic competition meant that she had to look glamorous almost 24/7, she pursed her passion with relish. Unfortunately, she eventually became very ill.

She was soon diagnosed with scleroderma (an often fatal auto-immune disease), and could no longer perform on stage. After churning through a couple of bad marriages and a career in opera, she finally put her stake down in Seattle.

Although the disease almost killed her, she bounced back by finding a nutritional and life style balance as well as her dedicated life partner, Alan Lincoln. Patrice laughed and told me that at the point of death, she decided that she would rather "go out dancing". Since Alan was an accomplished folk dancer, Patrice exercised her desire to dance and began to rebuild her strength.

Later, she served a term as president of the Scleroderma Foundation, and lobbied the state legislature for favorable treatment for those who were afflicted with this disease. Her non-profit organizational skills were a tremendous asset to the current WOS (Washington Ornithological Society) Board. In fact, she rapidly became the Board visionary, and had enthusiastically laid out groundwork for both the 2009 and 2010 conferences.

In her pursuit of natural nutritional balance, Patrice also discovered birding. A fun hobby quickly grew into a strong passion.

The first time that I met Patrice was on a 2002 WOS Conference field trip. When I began birding more statewide, I would sometimes cross paths with her in the field. As our friendship was developing, we began planning various birding trips together. After my own marriage flamed out and crashed in 2006, Patrice assumed the role of my protective big sister.
In the early dark days of 2007, Patrice's calm soothing advice and encouragement helped me to dig out that post-divorce, pit-of-despair, and I started to rebuild my life.

Last spring, Patrice joined me for eight days of my two and half week odyssey to the Southwest. During that trip we had one really bad, stressful day, where we were both burned out, emotionally frayed, and we were sniping at each other. During that evening in a lackluster motel in southern New Mexico, we had what politicians might refer to as "frank discussion". We made confessions, concessions, and ended up in tears and hugs. Due to our mutual trust in each other, our own friendship had both endured and strengthened. After that "night of the emotional showdown", we proceeded forward at a much saner pace, and had fabulous time birding together in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.

This year we traveled together to Minnesota-Iowa (where I met Patrice's family), and to Delaware-New Jersey (with our mutual birder friend and competitive ABA year lister, Dennis Murphy). After these birding trips, Patrice's life list was considerably pumped up.

Of course, I witnessed Patrice's growing birding skills too. Ironically, the problem that Patrice had with bird identification was by sound. I asked her why someone who was so musically trained couldn't remember the difference between a Western Tanager and a Cassin's Vireo. She explained to me that her trained musical ear picks up so much of a bird's variation in timbre, pitch, etc. of the individual singing bird that she doesn't note the sonic templates that most birders use to distinguish between species. In other words, Patrice musically evaluated each individual bird just as she would an individual stage performer. For Patricia, she was caught up in the intricate music that the bird was singing and was not concerned with the common vocal patterns that most of us recognize.

On warm sunny days such as this, I believe that we can feel Patrice's own deep personal warmth, as well as her own love of such sun splashed afternoons. Whenever a gentle breeze passes through the boughs of our northern conifers, maybe we will still hear her lilting voice or the echo of her laughter.

Patrice, I will always love you sister!

Gina Sheridan
Spokane, WA

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