Editor’s note: Each Monday, the Kenosha News takes a look at the life of a Kenosha County resident who has recently died. We share with you, through the memories of family and friends, a life remembered.
Pat Falduto-Miethke said “yes” to life.
Halloween costumes, yoga, dancing and championing the causes of her children and seniors: whatever she did, Pat Falduto-Meithke was all in, said family and friends.
“She lived in the county and never got a single trick-or-treater, but dressed in full costume for (her grandchildren),” said daughter Linda Broesche. “She’d get out all her jewelry and makeup to be an Arab king, an alien or a fortune teller.”
Pat approached life with mirth and energy, said her family.
“This winter she wanted to see the lights at the Racine Zoo,” Linda said. “She was this 84-year-old with a family membership at the zoo just so she could take everyone.”
“My mom was really something. She was always happy,” said her daughter, Grace Falduto.
“Pat’s vibrancy, her stories, her laughter and her hugs” are favorite recollections of Pat from yoga instructor Janice Hjelmgren.
Pat also always gave her all helping others. “She was generous with her time, advice and love,” Linda said.
Over the years, she was a Weight Watchers leader, Mary Kay consultant and director for the Kenosha Senior Center.
She was a nurturing mother to her own children and friends to whom she became a mother figure.
“We had become quite close through the years, and she would refer to herself as ‘Pat Mom’ in all her text messages,” said Christina Ptak, owner of and instructor at Yoga & Friends.
“She never stopped being a parent,” said her daughter, Mary James. “She was always caring for others.”
“She wanted to raise me right. She was always coaching me,” Grace said. “I wanted to nominate her for Mother of the Year.”
Patricia “Pat” J. Falduto-Miethke, 84, of Kenosha, died Feb. 16, at Aurora Medical Center. She is survived by her children, Linda (Michael) Broesch, Dr. Laura Falduto, Mary James and Grace Falduto; her step-daughter, Robbin (Danny) Wedell; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; her sister-in-law, Rita Oberson; and dear friend, Randa Lancy.
Early life and marriage
Pat was born June 2, 1935, in Kenosha, the daughter of Myron and Genevieve Sanderson.
She attended local schools and graduated from Bradford High School in 1953.
On June 18, 1955, she married Joseph Falduto.
“She was drawn to (Joseph) because he came from a big Italian family. She loved having an extended family; the presence of people getting together and sharing meals,” Mary said.
Pat stayed home while raising their four children. Her youngest, Grace, had cognitive challenges that Pat patiently and persistently addressed, guiding Grace on her journey to independence.
“It was a big mission for Pat to help Grace adapt to life and get through the school system,” Mary said.
“She helped me find an apartment and helped me buy my car. She didn’t want me to be stranded,” Grace said.
Improving herself and others
As her children became adults, Pat explored new ways to improve herself and others.
She began by joining and becoming a leader for Weight Watchers. “She was always concerned about her health and went to Weight Watchers after having four kids by her late 30s,” Linda said.
She also became a consultant for Mary Kay cosmetics.
“She felt she wasn’t very good at selling but really, really loved learning about people skills, makeup and color,” Mary said.
“She liked to help people feel good about their appearance and themselves,” added Linda.
Pat’s marriage to Joseph ended in divorce in 1980.
In the late 1970s, Pat began attending the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, attaining a degree in psychology in 1983.
She had a lifelong love of learning and had a huge collection of books, DVDs and CDs on diverse subjects, said family.
In 1983, Pat became program director at the Kenosha Senior Center, which she did until her retirement in 2009 at age 74.
“She was very passionate about the mission of inclusivity (at the center), trying different activities to reach different segments of the population — crafting, exercise, card playing, computers and health care,” Linda said.
“(The Senior Center) was the perfect job for her because she got to help people live their best lives until they went to the next thing,” Linda said.
While at the Senior Center, Pat met Robert Miethke and the two married May 24, 1989. “She liked the fact that he was a good man and willing to travel,” Mary said. “They took overseas trips to Ireland, Israel and Scandinavia.”
Robert passed away in 2016.
Active in yoga to the end
Pat began attending yoga sessions at Yoga & Friends in 1996 and became a lively part of the community.
“Every time she introduced herself to a new (yoga) student she would tell them her name was ‘Pat’ and pat her leg at the same time to emphasize her name,” Christina said.
She also impressed instructors and fellow participants by taking on physically-demanding classes.
“Pat especially loved the challenge of the intermediate and advanced yoga classes,” said Janice, a kundalini yoga instructor. “She always uplifted those around her with words of encouragement, funny stories and laughter.”
“Pat always ended each yoga class by saying, ‘Thank you for being here,’ and of course, I would say it back to her, as would the whole class,” Christina said.
Of her skills and achievements, however, Pat was most satisfied with those lived through her family.
“For her it wasn’t that she had been a director of the Senior Center, but that she loved her family,” Linda said. “Her accomplishments with Grace; that was her life’s work,” she added.
“She taught me to have patience,” Grace said.
“One of her greatest gifts was that she always saw the glass as three-quarters full — she never lost her sense of wonder of the world,” Linda said.
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