Patricia Swanson

Obituary of Patricia Evans Swanson

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Patricia Evans Swanson passed away in her home at Amity Ranch on March 24, 2024, surrounded by her loving family and friends. She was 65 years old. Born in Palo Alto, California, in 1958, to Joseph Patrick Swanson and Susan Jane Swanson, Patty grew up in Portola Valley, a semi-rural community south of San Francisco, in a multi-generational family that included her grandmother, Ella Westerling Evans. Her childhood was rich with a loving family, a bossy older sister, devoted friends, outdoor adventures on foot or horseback to explore the natural world and new places, and a parade of beloved animal companions. Even as a child and young woman, Patty loved learning, meeting new people, and helping others. It was no surprise that she chose to become a teacher and to focus her efforts and skills on helping those most in need. Patty graduated from Ravenswood High School and attended the College of San Mateo and Middlebury College. After graduating from Middlebury College in Vermont she obtained her teaching credential from San Jose State University and began teaching in a 4th grade bilingual classroom at Hoover Elementary School in Redwood City. While working at Hoover she met researchers from the Stanford School of Education who taught her advanced groupwork strategies that appealed to Patty’s core belief that every child had talents that would be revealed with the right teaching strategy. Her association with Stanford led her to take a leave of absence from teaching to pursue a master’s degree, which in turn became a six year leave as she completed her Ph.D. Patty taught at CSU-Stanislaus five years, and then at San Jose State University for 26 years. Patty originally taught social studies methods classes, but in one of the better ironies of her life she was asked, early in her career, to teach math methods. Patty was the first to admit that math was a subject she had always struggled with in school, so therefore saw herself as not necessarily the best choice to teach math methods. As it turned out she was the perfect choice. Her struggles gave her a sensitivity and compassion for the struggle so many students have with math, and informed her approach to teaching math methods classes. She was an extraordinary teacher often referred to as “the best teacher I ever had” by her credential students. She was loved and admired for her energy, passion, laughter, and practical and helpful teaching strategies. Patty later served as chair of the department of Teacher Education, where her friendship, leadership, and mentorship were profoundly respected by her colleagues. Patty also volunteered at the local one-room school which all her children attended. She was very involved in her children’s education and passionate about mentoring, supporting, and inspiring all the area students. While at Stanford Patty met David Reikowski, the love of her life and husband of 30 years. They settled in south San Benito County on Amity Ranch where they raised three children. Amity Ranch was started by her mother Sue as a gathering place for family and friends. Often the gatherings were for fun and relaxation, but on occasion guests were instructed to bring work clothes for a “rancho trabajo” project. With Sue’s passing Patty became the “glue that holds everyone together.” The ranch was a place where her children could bring their friends, extended family was always welcome, and all were met with warm hugs and laughter. Patty never shied from a new challenge, whether it was learning to rope alongside her sons and competing in the local rodeo, completing the John Muir Trail, or feeding a ranch gathering numbering in the dozens. As she neared retirement she was looking forward to helping her children with their ranching enterprise, Willow Creek Land and Cattle. Patty loved being in nature. As a young woman she completed an Outward Bound wilderness program in Colorado, later convinced her husband that backpacking could be fun, and ultimately introduced her entire family to wilderness camping. Nothing in nature gave Patty more pleasure than a high Sierra meadow filled with wildflowers. She gave her children a deep love of nature, whether exploring the land around the ranch on horseback, swimming in a frigid high Sierra lake, or simply sitting on the deck admiring an especially picturesque sunset. Patty is survived by her husband, Dr. David Reikowski, her three children Elizabeth Duncan (Blake), Matthew Reikowski (Celeste Card), and Peter Reikowski (Lauren Brigham), and her sister Dr. Christina (Tina) Swanson. A celebration of Patty’s life will be held at the family ranch on September 7th. The family has requested that memorial contributions may be made to the Patty Swanson Endowed Scholarship at San José State University. Gifts should be made payable to the SJSU Tower Foundation and mailed to: SJSU Tower Foundation University Advancement One Washington Square San José, CA 95192-0183 In the memo line of the check, please write: Patty Swanson Endowed Scholarship.
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Patricia Swanson

In Loving Memory

Patricia Swanson

1958 - 2024

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