Patricia (Pat) O’Neil Fender |

Patricia (Pat) O’Neil Fender

Patricia (Pat) O’Neil Fender, 87, of Carbondale, CO, died at her home early in the morning on Sunday, October 25, 2015, of complications from an earlier fall.

Born in Denver, Colorado, on July 10, 1928, Pat was the oldest daughter of Henry Eli and Viola (Dotterer) O’Neil. She moved to the east at an early age and lived in Connecticut through the fourth grade. Her two sisters, Barbara Scott and Anne Elizabeth, were born there before her family moved to St. Louis, MO, in 1938. Pat had the great good fortune to attend the John Burroughs School, where she graduated in 1946. She then attended Vassar College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1950.

Her first job was as a teacher at a little primary school in Clifton, AZ. She later taught in Carbondale and Denver. A major joy in her life was going to the Perry Mansfield Camp in Steamboat Springs, CO, where she started as a camper in 1939 and went on to become a horseback riding instructor and counselor for 10 years.

In 1954, Pat married William O. Fender, a rancher from Carbondale. In 1960, they bought their own ranch in Emma, west of Basalt, where they raised Hereford cattle and quarter horses for 45 years. They then retired to their home in Carbondale, where they continued to host many pleasurable lunches, dinners and gatherings (often providing overnight accommodations!) for relatives, neighbors and friends from near and far. Pat continued planning luncheons and pot-lucks right up to the end!

Bill and Pat had two children, a daughter Susan Perry Fender and a son, William O’Neil Fender. A grandson, Derek Ross Handwerk, and a granddaughter, Lauren Vagneur Burtard, were the source of great happiness for the Fenders. Pat was thrilled at the arrival of a new great-grandson, Cash Kingston Burtard, in February of 2014.

Pat worked part time for 39 years at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School, where she was known as a fearsome grammar maven. She was a founding member of the Holy Cross Cattlewomen’s Association, was a 45-year member of the Basalt Community United Methodist Church, and more recently a member of the Carbondale Community United Methodist Church. She was a longtime secretary of the Emma Community Trust and an original member of the Great Books group in Carbondale.

Besides her family and friends, her major interests were traveling and reading. Even in her final days she would quote a bit of Shakespeare and show her quick humor.

Her last request for solid food was for chocolate! She had strong opinions, fought for the underdog, kept track of everyone’s birthday and was one of the world’s first recyclers — reusing tin foil and plastic bags way before it was popular! She was known for her loyalty to her friends, her notes on treasured cards collected by friends and relatives over the years and her mailings of clippings on many, various subjects to favorite people whom she knew would be interested in, or amused by, said enclosures.

In addition to her parents and a half-brother, Howard, Pat was predeceased by her husband, William Omer Fender. She is survived by her daughter Susan Handwerk (Jeff) of Salt Lake City, UT, her son William O’Neil Fender (Francesca) of Basalt, CO, her grandson Derek Handwerk of Fort Collins, CO, her granddaughter Lauren Burtard (Ty) and great-grandson Cash Burtard of Woody Creek, CO, her sisters Barbara O’Neil Ross and Anne O’Neil Dauer of Palo Alto, CA, her niece Lesley Dauer of Mountain View, CA, and her nephew Christopher Dauer (Stephanie) and their children Linc and Allison of Los Altos, CA. She is also survived by her nieces Willa (Jim) Holgate and Kathy Fender of Austin, TX, her nephew Dr. Marlan (Paula) Fender, D.V.M. of Phoenix, AZ, and by many cherished friends around the world.

A memorial celebration of Pat’s life will be held in the spring of 2016.

Her family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to all Pat’s wonderful caregivers! Without your love and support, we couldn’t have kept Mom where she wanted to be: at home!

Memorial donations may be made to Arthritis Foundation, Rocky Mountain Chapter, 2280 S. Albion, Denver 80222; The Scholarship Fund, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, 1493 County Road #106, Carbondale, CO 811623; or The Carbondale Community United Methodist Church, 385 South 2nd Street, Carbondale, CO 81623.

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