Patricia Kienzle Ross, 66, of 524 Hayfields Lane, McDowell, passed away on Saturday, December 5, 2009 at her home on Hayfields Farm.
She was born February 4, 1943 in Chestertown, Maryland, the daughter of the late Eugene and Anita Kienzle.
Pat attended St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock, VA, and Hood College in Frederick, MD. After graduation in 1965, she left small-town Maryland for New York City where she entered the publishing industry as an editorial assistant at the popular children’s magazine, Humpty Dumpty. Successive positions culminated in her promotion to vice president with Random House Publishing. However, after 18 years in publishing, she left to open a successful and sophisticated home furnishings shop on upper Madison Avenue called Sweet Nellie. The shop’s unusual partnering of handcrafted items and country antiques was later celebrated in Formal Country -- just one of dozens of books Pat wrote and often illustrated with her own photography – and featured in a special Live with Regis and Kathy Lee.
A library of the author’s books provides insight into her eclectic interests and myriad talents. Her dedication to the women’s movement is reflected in her first book published in 1974, an anthology entitled Young and Female that was a steady seller for more than two decades. Her role as a mother of a young daughter inspired the popular M & M series of children’s books. Many of her other books, wrapped in her distinctive lively style, explore other subjects close to her heart -- from home design, gardening and entertaining, to issues of special interest to women. Pat’s first venture to include her own photography -- a nostalgic look at small-town life entitled Remembering Main Street -- garnered much media attention including appearances on Good Morning, America and CNN’s Daybreak , the first of many of the author’s television appearances over the years.
In 2003, Pat was diagnosed with a neurological disorder, ultimately determined to be a rare condition called “Corticobasal Degeneration,” which initially affected her ability to use her hands. Undaunted as the illness progressed, Pat used voice recognition software to dictate an as-yet-unpublished autobiographical novel, Sleight of Hand, chronicling her struggles with her illness, as well as the joys of her courtship and marriage to her husband, Kenneth McGraw with whom she settled in rural Highland County, Virginia on Hayfields Farm. This, her last literary effort, is a testament to her courage, humor and genuine love of life.
Pat is survived by her husband, Kenneth McGraw; a beloved daughter, Erica Ross, of Chicago; a sister, Dr. Eugenia Kienzle of Konstanz, Germany and a brother, William Kienzle of Auburndale, Nova Scotia. Countless friends in New York City, and Bath and Highland counties also mourn her passing.
A memorial celebration will be held Saturday, December 12 at 2:00 pm at Garth Newel Music Center, whose enchanting locale and varied concert offerings Pat enjoyed frequently.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to CurePSP, Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, 11350 McCormick Road, Suite 906, Executive Plaza III, Hunt Valley, MD, 21031 (800) 457-4777 or to Garth Newel Music Center, P.O. Box 240, Warm Springs, VA, 24484 (540) 839-5018.