- About Us
Patricia (Steel) Deane Wilkinson was taken by her Lord and Savior to the life eternal following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease on September 21, 2018. She was born on July 26, 1930 in Flint, Michigan where she grew up with her sister Virginia (Vosburg) – 4 years older – and her parents Adlin Schierl Steel and Harold Steel, all three of whom preceded her in death. Patricia attended schools in Flint, MI graduating from Flint Northern High School with honors in June 1948, in a college preparatory program. She was in Student Council, “Y-Girls”, “Sigma Chi Lambda” and “Stepping Stones” Clubs. She worked as a “Junior Pharmacist” in Durgan Drug Store 4 to 5 hours every day after school. Patricia then attended Flint Junior College, graduating with an Associate’s Degree in Science in June 1950. She then enrolled in the first (initial) class of the new Medical Technology Program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her class was small (10 women); in the second year of the program the Medical Technology students were assigned to the same biochemistry lecture and laboratory course as the freshmen medical students. There she met her husband-to-be, Charles. In a matter of only two weeks, Patricia graduated from University of Michigan with a Medical Technology Degree, took and passed her Med Tech Board Exams, planned her wedding and married Charles on June 27, 1953 in Flint, Michigan. Afterward, she worked as a licensed medical technologist in the Pediatric Laboratory of the U of M Hospital, supporting the two of them until Charles graduated from Medical School in June, 1955. Their first baby boy had arrived in March 1955. She then moved to Grand Rapids, MI where husband Charles interned, 1955-56. Following this with now a second baby boy, she and family spent 6 weeks in Sparta, MI awaiting U.S. Army draft call (Korea), thereafter was 4 months in Fort Sam Houston, TX, then 6 months at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL and subsequently 2 years at Fort Rucker, AL. While there she worked in the Army Hospital laboratory. Following Army discharge, Patricia and family (now 4 sons) moved to Grand Rapids, MI where she remained. Two more baby boys followed (total 6). In Grand Rapids she was a lab technologist at Ferguson-Droste Hospital and Michigan Blood Bank for several years each. Patricia became involved with Women’s committee of the Grand Rapids Symphony, including their many “Show Houses”, being in charge of two. Also, she was on Butterworth Women’s Committee, St. Mary’s Library Committee, Kent County Medical Auxiliary, including terms as secretary and President. She with family spent many years skiing in the Western U.S. mountains, becoming an expert downhill skier. She was also a member of Grand Rapids Tennis Travel Team. She taught Grand Rapids and Eastminster Presbyterian Church Bible study groups. She sang in the church choir for more than 20 years. Many travels throughout the U.S. in National Parks and other sites, generally in motorhomes with children, later with husband Charles, including stays in their townhome for 10 years, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado where oldest son David is ER M.D. Medical Director. Patricia belonged to three book groups as reading and internet research became her passion. She accomplished all these activities while still being Mother, councilor, referee, bedtime storyteller and chauffer to all the son’s activities. (she had to turn down an offer to be a ski patrol person at Cannonsburg!) She will be missed greatly by her sons Dr. David (Lisa), Dr. Michael, Dr. John (Corinne), Daniel and Thomas; third son James preceded Patricia in death in 2012. Also missing and grieving for her will be 15 grandchildren, 10 of them girls (yea), as well as extended families of relatives. And, saddened and heartbroken especially her best friend, confidant and caregiver, husband Charles. Lastly, but so important, Patricia will be missed by all her friends, from church, book groups and others. Patricia often told everyone, “I so love and want to be with and see my boys!” The funeral service will be held at 11:00 A.M. Saturday October 6, 2018 at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, 1700 Woodward Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506 with visitation one hour prior to the service beginning at 10am. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Eastminster Presbyterian Church, Parkinson’s Research Foundation, Parkinson’s Foundation or East Grand Rapids (Kent District) Library.
Eastminster Presbyterian Church
1700 Woodward Ave. SE, Grand Rapids MI 49506
Parkinson’s Association of West Michigan
260 Jefferson Ave SE, Suite 210, Grand Rapids MI 49503
Van Andel Institute - Parkinson's Disease Research
333 Bostwick Ave. N.E., Grand Rapids MI 49503