Patricia “Pat” Walters, 82, of Mills River, NC formerly of Earlington, KY, died Thursday, February 9, 2023 at The Lodge at Mills River.
She was a daughter of the late George and Veda Byrnside Harris.
Pat was a true Kentucky native. Born in Lexington, she grew up on a dairy farm in Carrolton, KY. Growing up, she shared her father’s love of farming; helping him raise cattle and eventually showing her own prize Jersey cows in local, regional, and state competitions.
From her mother Veda she inherited a vibrant, friendly demeanor and a love of reading and literature. This passion for the written word would go on to shape her personal and professional destiny.
She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Education, then married a young aspiring funeral director named Johnny Walters. Soon after she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Lisa.
John, as he became known, soon accepted a position at Reid Funeral Home in Earlington, KY. The supportive people of this friendly community welcomed the young couple. John and Pat would eventually become the funeral home’s owners. The couple would also go on to call the little coal mining town home for most of their lives. Both became active and well-liked members of the larger Hopkins County community.
Following her professional aspirations Pat embarked on a long and successful teaching career in the neighboring town of Madisonville. Starting at Madisonville High School and later Madisonville North Hopkins High School she excelled as a teacher of English and Humanities. Under the guidance of her mentor Mary Hart Finley, she soon gained a reputation for her tough but fair classroom approach, her enthusiasm for learning, and her kind and caring nature.
Pat would reflect on her years as a teacher as the happiest of her life, second only to her role as mother to her children, by this time adding son Matthew to the family.
More joy was to follow with four grandchildren and three “great-grands” as she called them. By now, she had moved on to the title of “Nana” which she embraced with her trademark warmth, love, and enthusiasm. A trip to Nana’s house was cause for excitement and celebration for each new family member that came along.
Retirement found her as active as ever, contributing her time to the causes and organizations she cared about. People often joked that the only role Pat had not attempted at her beloved First Christian Church in Earlington was as Pastor.
She was an avid baker of bread and cookies, gaining “fans” in both Kentucky and North Carolina. Her Book Club was a weekly delight, as much an excuse to socialize as to discuss the reading.
She maintained a presence with organizations like the American Red Cross and Sanctuary: A local non-profit agency for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Prior to his death she and John especially enjoyed spending time together as bell ringers for the Salvation Army during the holidays.
Pat spent her remaining years in her adopted state of North Carolina. She enjoyed the mountains of Western North Carolina and was a vibrant and kind addition to the High Vista Community in Mills River. Pat shared a home in there with her daughter Lisa and son-in-law David.
She made many new friends while in North Carolina, and a new book club and yoga group were soon to follow. But Kentucky was never far from her thoughts or her heart. In fact, she was able to reconnect with high school classmates and other Kentucky transplants while in North Carolina.
If there is a common thread running through the events of Pat’s life, it consists of these simple life principles she demonstrated with a fierce commitment:
• Love for family and friends.
• Love of learning.
• Being kind.
• Care and service to others.
She made it look effortless, especially when it was not. In fact, it took a special kind of strength to touch so many people’s lives in such a profound and positive way.
Pat was fond of saying that a true teacher never really stops teaching or learning. She lived a life rich with love, community, and meaning.
That final lesson in living is best learned by remembering the example she set.
In addition to her parents, Pat was also preceded in death by her husband, John Lindsay Walters who died in 2007.
Pat is survived by a daughter, Lisa Frazier (Dave) of Mills River; a son, Matthew Walters (Elizabeth) of Lexington, KY; a sister, Sue Harris Scott (Sam) of Carrolton, KY; four grandchildren, Dylan Solise (Jessica), Lindsay Solise, Michaela Burton and David E. Frazier as well as three great-grandchildren, Johnaven Solise, Callum Burton and Veda Solise.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 2:30 PM on Saturday, April 1, 2023 at Earlington First Christian Church in Earlington, KY with Pastor Kim Hudson and Bro. Dennis Mayfield officiating. Private burial will be at Oakwood Cemetery in Earlington, KY.
Visitation will be held from 10:00am until 2:00pm on Saturday, April 1, 2023 at Reid-Walters Funeral Home in Earlington, KY.
In lieu of flowers, Pat’s family graciously asks that memorial contributions be made in her memory to the Earlington First Christian Church, Hopkins County Humane Society, and American Heart Association.
Online condolences may be made at www.reidwaltersfh.com
Hospice of Western Kentucky
3419 Wathens Crossing, Owensboro, KY 42301 ,
Tel: (270) 926-7565