by KTNA Staff ~ July 16th, 2015
Submitted by the family:
Longtime Alaska resident and beloved wife and mother, Mrs. Patricia Josephine Grosz, née Callahan, 69, passed away at home surrounded by family on Sunday, June 28, 2015.
Patricia was born on August 18, 1945 in Spenard, Alaska to Nellie Ivy Callahan, née Atwater, and John Leahy Callahan. She was the second youngest of 4 siblings. Her father nicknamed her “Paddy” when she was young, inspired by her name and her Irish heritage. When Paddy was a little girl her father moved the family to Gold Creek. The family homesteaded there for several years before becoming seasonal residents, spending summers out on the tracks and winters in Anchorage. Paddy survived growing up in the woods without electricity or running water, and when she was 19, she survived the 1964 Alaska earthquake while living in Anchorage. She moved to Fairbanks in her early 20s and attended classes at UAF before joining the Teamsters union to drive a fuel truck on the North Slope. She would often reminisce about this position in later years. She was a woman kicking butt at a man’s job, and it was tough, but she was up to the challenge. She frequently said, “We had to be twice as good as the men, and for less pay.” She worked on various phases of the pipeline from 1976 to 1984. It was during her time in Fairbanks that she and her first husband, David Schaefer, had two daughters, Augustine and Heidi, before separating. A third daughter, Shannon, arrived in 1980.
While living in Fairbanks, she met and befriended Bonnie Grosz, the sister of her future husband. After leaving her job on the slope, she traveled, ultimately ending up in North Dakota, where she married Bonnie’s brother, Orville. They had one daughter together, Willow. In 1995, Paddy moved back to Talkeetna with Orville, Shannon and Willow, drawn by her historical ties to Gold Creek and the presence of a large extended family in the area. After moving to Talkeetna, Paddy became active in the community, primarily through the arts. She had an intense love of literacy, which she shared with all her daughters. She taught herself to make the most beautiful pottery, and loved experimenting with glaze colors. When she hit her 50s, she began taking violin lessons, something she had dreamed of since she was a child hauling buckets of water up to the cabin at Gold Creek. Learning an instrument as an adult is not easy, but Paddy’s love of music carried her through, and she eventually became a founding member of the Rhythm and Red Shoes Orchestra. She also served on the Upper Susitna Seniors Board of Directors and was very proud to have recently been appointed to the Talkeetna Public Library Board. Shortly before she passed, Paddy enjoyed a weeklong trip to Fairbanks where she was able to spend time with her daughters and grandchildren.
Paddy will be fondly remembered for her addiction to sunglasses and colorful socks, as well as her “mother hen” advice, which included such gems as, “Never honk at someone in traffic, you never know who has a gun in their car.”
She is survived by her husband of 29 years, Orville Grosz of Talkeenta, AK; daughters Augustine Schaefer (Doug Chambers) of Fairbanks, AK; Heidi Schaefer (Jeff Thomas) of Fairbanks, AK; Shannon Grosz of Wasilla, AK; and Willow Grosz of Munising, MI, as well as three grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Patricia was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Noel Wilson and Danny Callahan, and a sister, Jessie Renner.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar in Talkeetna, AK, at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, July 21. Mom loved Talkeetna’s unique community spirit, so please come and share your laughter, memories, and fellowship with us. This is a potluck event; please feel free to bring a favorite dish to share. You can RSVP with your dish by contacting either Ann Farina at ann [dot] farina [at] gmail [dot] com or Willow Grosz at willow [dot] grosz [at] gmail [dot] com.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Friends of the Talkeetna Library in memory of Paddy Grosz.
Arrangements were cared for by Valley Funeral Home, Wasilla Chapel.