About 20 of Patricia Rowe's children and grandchildren celebrated her 94th birthday with a party in the atrium at Beechwood Homes in Getzville in late February.
It was a special time, with youngsters able to run around, and Rowe watching them with delight.
"She loved seeing children," said her daughter, Barbara Rowe.
The mother of 12, grandmother of 38, great-grandmother of 36 and great-great-grandmother of two spent her life caring for her children. Guided by the values of faith, education and service, she was generous and loving, and for years she helped immigrants and refugees get on their feet.
But February's party was the last time most of her family saw her. Shortly after that, visitation at the nursing home was suspended because of Covid-19. Her family got regular updates on their mother, who was in the dementia unit. And then came a phone call that she had a fever, and a day or two later, word that she had tested positive for the coronavirus.
She died April 24 at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, just a week after coming down with symptoms. Barbara Rowe met her mother in the emergency room, and spent the night with her in her room.
"She did recognize me. She smiled at me," Barbara Rowe said. "By the morning she became unresponsive."
Barbara Rowe went home and quarantined herself. Her mother died the next day.
"It's really a shame this had to be the way it happened," she said. "I know the staff at Beechwood did everything they could for her."
Born in South Quincy, Mass., the former Patricia Sullivan was a registered nurse who worked at Bellevue Hospital in New York City during World War II. After the war she married the late Robert Rowe and they moved to Williamsville, where he was a vice president for John W. Cowper Construction Co. Eventually they moved the family to Charleston, S.C. Nine years ago she returned to Buffalo, where two of her children live.
Her children fondly recall family dinners at their Mill Street home, with all 14 family members plus assorted friends, sitting around an old library table and chairs. Sometimes there were so many people Patricia Rowe served two shifts.
"She was strong and she was tough," said her son, David, but he added she was also pretty easygoing and always smiling.
"She was pretty fierce about standing up for yourself," Barbara Rowe said. "She was very much about doing everything you can do to develop yourself."
The Buffalo News is publishing stories about people from Buffalo Niagara who have died due to Covid-19. Please contact The News at email@example.com if you know of someone whose story we should tell.