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Patricia Pinson Reese

Patricia Pinson Reese of Seattle, Washington, died Saturday, June 15, of natural causes, at Kline Galland Home. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, November 27, 1927, she was approaching her ninety-seventh birthday, and over seventy years of residence in her beloved city of Seattle.

Pat, as she liked to be known, was born and raised in Nashville, growing up as the youngest of four children on Sweetbriar Avenue in Nashville’s West End neighborhood. Her father, William Wallace Pinson, was an architect, and her mother, Marguerite Barker Pinson, a homemaker with  one of the first Montessori School certificates in the country. She had two older sisters, Peggy and Jean, and an older brother, Bill. Her early years were shaped by living through the Great Depression and by the early death of her father.

Her mother had to find work to support the family, and relatives became a needed support system. Her Grandmama Pinson, whose love of language, stories, games, and riddles kindled Pat’s imagination and developed her love of words and language, and her ever-present humor.

After high school, Pat attended Peabody College in Nashville on scholarship, where she graduated with a degree in Languages. She was then set on her path as a teacher of Spanish and ESL in the public schools of Seattle, teaching for 37 years at Eckstein Junior High School and Roosevelt High School until her retirement in 1992.

But those are just the facts. Pat’s life was extraordinary for her times.  At age 22, with her new Bachelor’s degree in hand, Pat stepped out of her comfort zone and took her first teaching job at a small town in Oklahoma for two years. It was a challenging environment, but she persevered, finished the contract, and returned to Nashville to get her Master’s degree, then went to Mexico City to study Spanish. Then, to her delight, an offer from Seattle public schools materialized, and off she set on a cross country rail trip. 

Stepping off the train in Seattle, she wrote, “I had one sensation I had in Oklahoma, only that one was somehow scary, and this one, for some reason, somehow was exhilarating! Was it the air? The trees? The smiles on peoples’ faces? Maybe the time of day? All of the above, I decided later! And now Seattle!”

So Seattle became her home of choice and love. She met Norm Reese, an intellectual zori-wearing, houseboat-living Boeing worker. They married and lived on a creaky, charming houseboat on Lake Washington. Pat had taken up basket-weaving and she and Norm were among the early renters of a stall at Pike Place Market, selling baskets with other artists on Saturdays and enjoying coffee at Starbucks in the mid-50’s through early 60’s.

She went on to write, with her friend Wilma Ziegler, a comprehensive manual for making baskets using native materials from the Pacific Northwest, titled ‘Grounds For Gathering: Basketry Plants West of the Cascades,’ which continues to sell copies. She was a long time member of the Northwest Basket Weavers, for which she conducted and participated in many workshops celebrating the joy of basket making.

When she and Norm divorced after 12 years, she described herself as “happy, very happy” and decided to turn her home on Capitol Hill into a bed and breakfast. She had many repeat visitors who admired her homemade muffins and advice on sightseeing in Seattle.

Whether teaching, basketmaking, or practicing her enviable Master Gardner skills in her Seattle backyard, her love of cats was the thread that bound all phases of her life. She was devoted to her cats, stray or shelter, one at a time, for her 70 years in Seattle. She created a “Cat-A-Log” of all her cats, photos and stories about all of them, even into her retirement home life. Her last cat, Bernie, had many years on him when she took him in; she hoped he would outlive her, but she saw him through and mourned his passing.

Once asked to introduce herself when she took up residence at Ida Culver Ravenna retirement home, by listing five things she would want her best friend to know about her, she wrote:

“I like coffee with cream and sugar.  I’m from Tennessee. I like cats and enjoy gardening. I like to play games. I am an advocate for others and quick to help those in need.”

This short list captures her essence. She excelled at Scrabble and the New York Times crossword; she developed deep friendships with neighbors, fellow basketmakers, and volunteers at Northwest Harvest, where she volunteered her time and donated throughout her years in Seattle. 

She is remembered fondly by numerous nieces and nephews scattered throughout the country, and by her close circle of friends and neighbors who remained steadfast through her final days in her beloved chosen home of Seattle. She will certainly be missed. Rest in peace and love, dear Patricia Pinson Reese.


Aunt Pat was ahead of her time in so many ways.
An independent woman who made her own path and created her future as she wanted it. Always generous, kind, and thoughtful. Supported her sister Peggy and brother-in-law Charles through their final days. Selfless in so many ways. Yet always with humor and love, and gratitude for her many blessings.

Victoria Keith

We adored her and will miss her immensely! Strong but kind - and that chuckle! We love you Pat!

Dominic Williamson

Pat was a wonderful friend and neighbor. I loved her baskets, and miss talking with her.

Mary Conrad

I enjoyed chatting with Pat in her garden and having tea at her table while we talked about baskets and our cats. She was a lovely, interesting person.

Carol Henderson

Pat was our neighbor across the street and she was exactly the kind of neighbor you'd want to have - sweet, caring, funny, and an overall delight. As she was one of the first neighbors on our street, I think that she set the tone for all of us neighbors. She will be dearly missed.

Doron Weisbarth

I remember taking my first cedar bark basket with Pat and her partner in basket weaving Phyllis Pearson at the Burke Museum in the late 80's. I also took several classes from her when she taught at the Basketry School in Fremont. She was a great teacher and a wonderful friend.

Dorothy McGuinness

I feel so fortunate to have first met Pat decades ago at a basketry retreat at Crescent Lake. She was so kind and friendly and generous with her knowledge and her smile. She was a person it just felt good to be around. She was truly a beautiful soul and I will miss her.

Jenny Lidington

Pat was a Master Gardner. When I bought my little house in Seattle she brought plants for my garden. Her little baskets were highly prized and she shared her basketry knowledge with so many of us basketcases. Godspeed Pat.

Ann McKane

Pat was my first basketry teacher in the early 90s. She introduced me to the numerous resources available locally for making all kinds of baskets both in person and through her guide: Ground for Gathering. She always encouraged me to try and put my own ideas into a pattern to make the basket my own. I will always remember her.

Margreet de Leeuw

Pat - I'm sorry I never got to meet you in person but the work and passion you put into Grounds for Gathering and the weaving community has changed my life. I found basketry only a few years ago at a time in my life when I really needed it and your book is with me everywhere I go. Thank you for your dedication and wonderfully inquisitive mind. I will be a rather gather weaver for the rest of my life. With so much appreciation, I wish you rest and rebirth.

Erin Cox

Pat had a fabulous house and kept lovely and beloved gardens in her front and backyards. She was always kind and generous with friends and neighbors.
When she first moved to Ida Culver and Bernie the cat moved in with her, she invited folks to "feel the Bern," a take on the Sander's campaign. I can see her smile and hear her chuckle as she said it to me.

Joyce Lem

When my mom (Ina), moved to ida culver, Pat quickly invited her to dine and play Quiddler together. She was a wonderful and supportive friend to my mom. I enjoyed Pat’s knowledge and especially her wit.
Rest in peace, Pat.

Barb Davis

I met Pat while working at The Cat Clinic of Seattle. She loved her cats beyond measure and was client for years and years. She was a hoot and a wonderful lady. I loved visiting with her when she came in. She gave all her feline family the best home they could have ever wished for. She will be missed.

Christie Shipler

Pat was always a chuckle and an insight in every conversation, from the 80’s to now—we shared gardens and baskets and language compatibly . She’s one of those people who always brings a soft smile inside when I think of her. A “basket trade” we made hangs on the wall in my everyday studio, so I am with her often, and her little “Acorn family” miniatures are in the display case of treasures. Thank you so much Pat for sharing yourself into my world.
Peace and hugs ,

Judy Zugish

Pat took her cats to the veterinary hospital I worked at. She was always kind to the staff and took the best care of all of her cats. She had a great sense of humor.

Ann Navarro

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