Obituary: Priscilla (Pat) K. Dehnke
January 25, 2013
Pat departed this world accompanied by the tears and loving approval of three children, Dianne (Nick) Tobey, Michael (Cherry) Dehnke, Robert (Elaine) Dehnke; six grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.
Pat was born to Walter and Alice Kenyon in Orfordville, New Hampshire. To her last day she carried the Yankee accent and flavor of her New England background and education.
Along with her parents, Walter and Alice, sister, Ruth, and brother, Mumpford (Mump), she moved to Carpinteria, Calif., in 1938 where her dad bought and operated the Carpinteria Motor Court. Pat worked at the Motor Court and joined in local social and church activities.
At one of these activities, a support group for G.I.’s heading for foreign theatres at the early part of World War II, she met Wilfred (Bill) Dehnke. Married, the two of them proceeded through 68 years of achievement, children, laughter, civic endeavors, shared journeys and eventual contentment of lives well lived and deserved.
Among the journeys they shared were raft trips down the Salmons (all of them), the Green and the Rogue. Three times they traversed the Grand Canyon… it wasn’t Pat that got “dragged out” on the last trip. They frequently visited New England where Pat was remembered and embraced by friends of her youth. She and Bill made several forays up to Alaska. She put her foot down on the last foray (photographing caribou in the Brooks Range), but she put it down gently.
In earlier days, the family tent-camped through the Sierras, particularly Yosemite. From this experience the kids developed a love and appreciation of nature and wildlife. Even more important to Pat, the three – Dianne, Mike and Robert – have remained close and share the values she instilled in them.
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In her later years, she and Bill moved to Carson City, Nev., to be closer to all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Installed at Sierra Place, she became not just Mother and Nanny, but Grand Nanny. She also dropped a few hints to the “place” about how to improve. Wherever she’s been in her life, she’s become the “rock” of that place. You always knew where you stood with Pat.
In her early married years, Pat worked at the (then) Lemon Packing House. She and her sister “Dutch” ran the cafeteria at the main school. She was busy and a mainstay of the Community Church. She was active in many political campaigns and elections, volunteering time and effort. Perhaps the thing that pleased her most was the effort she brought to making the Carpinteria Blood Bank a success. She also was a leading light in reseeding the hills after forest fires and a strong supporter of the Children’s Home Society Foundation for orphan adoption. Unboasted and seldom mentioned was her role as a World War II Coast Watcher.
Her hobbies, in lighter moments, consisted of maintaining a beautiful yard with emphases on roses and fuchsias. She, with several friends, created quilts of enduring quality and beauty. She was also a ferocious jigsaw puzzler, a skill taught to grand- and great-grandchildren. Perhaps a reflection of her character as a problem solver and builder.
Throughout her life, Pat was a keen observer and evaluator of events local to international. An avid reader, she also monitored the various media. She was well informed and quietly intellectual. No wonder she had so many friends. . . like her beloved “Friday Lunch Bunch.”
All in all this was a woman of constructive energy and great character, courageous, capable and enduring. Not only a strong woman, but more than that an admirable lady. Joined with her twin pillar now. . . going home.
By her request, memorial donations may be made to the Nature Conservancy, 381 Genoa, NV 89411, or Carpinteria Valley Historical Society, 956 Maple Ave., Carpinteria, CA 93013.
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Sierra Place and its employees for the loving care and support they have given these last several years. We would also like to thank Vista Care Hospice for their invaluable assistance.
A Celebration of Her Life will be held at Sierra Place, Friday, Feb. 1st, at 3 p.m.