Aug. 9, 1932 – Jan. 25, 2018
When Patricia Blake was a young mother, one of her five children severed his finger in a kitchen door. With trademark stoicism, she retrieved the finger from the floor, tucked it into a snow-filled Dixie cup, and drove both the son and the Dixie cup through a blizzard to Mercy Hospital. A seasoned nurse, she took control in the emergency room, talking both the young doctor and her frightened child through the procedure.
Her daughter, also Patricia, recalled Mrs. Blake's stamina as "astounding." After working the overnight shift at Abbott Manor Nursing Home, Mrs. Blake would rush home in the morning to see her five children off to school. Allowing herself a few hours of sleep, she would wake at 2 p.m. to starch her nurse's uniform, cook dinner and settle the kids before heading to work. Then, the entire routine would begin again.
“Her generation broke ceilings for the women who came later," her daughter said.
Mrs. Blake died at Seneca Manor in West Seneca on Thursday after a brief illness. She was 85.
Born Patricia Ann Stewart in Buffalo in 1932, she was recognized as a gifted student during her time at Kensington High School and graduated early, at age 16. In 1949, she enrolled in the nursing school at Edward H. Meyer Memorial Hospital, which later became Erie County Medical Center, to fulfill her career goal of becoming a registered nurse.
In 1956, she married Tom Blake, a Korean War veteran from South Buffalo. Together, they raised five children.
Mrs. Blake's career spanned nearly 50 years, most of it spent in geriatric health care as a nurse or administrator. In addition to Abbott Manor and Meyer Memorial Hospital, Mrs. Blake worked at Mercy Hospital and at nursing homes in Daytona, Fla., where she moved in the 1990s. She retired at age 70 before eventually returning to the Buffalo area.
Much of Mrs. Blake's proudest legacy is tied to her third son, Thomas, who was born deaf and with cerebral palsy. She sought out intense medical therapies for him, worked with him on his speech and muscle exercises, and nursed him through a string of illnesses. Reading lips and assisted by crutches, he graduated from high school as a traditional student. Together, they worked with the Variety Club Telethon, helping to raise money for other children with special needs.
In retirement, Mrs. Blake enjoyed life's simple pleasures: snuggling with her poodle, Bert, in front of an episode of "Bonanza" or enjoying a slice of Bocce Club pizza with a glass of 2 percent milk.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by four sons, Daniel, Thomas, Richard and Shawn.
A Memorial Mass will be held at 11:15 a.m. Saturday at St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church, 1140 Abbott Road.