Pat Sween was born Patricia Ann Fitzgerald to John and Mildred Fitzgerald on December 3rd, 1939, in Cassopolis, Michigan, three months after the beginning of WWII. She was the middle child of nine children, six girls and two boys. By 1942, the government began food rationing with sugar, then coffee, and finally other food products by March of 1943. Times were challenging, but the Fitzgerald family was resourceful and worked hard. In spite of their poverty, they did not fail to share their food with neighbors and transient people in need, and traded produce with the Jamaican family next door.
Pat participated in Sunday School programs, was a girl scout, took ballet lessons, and loved gymnastics as a young girl, as well as taking part in high school plays. At 14 she began working at Dusty Rhodes’ service station where the motto was “Don’t Fuss or Cuss, Call Us.” When she wasn’t helping customers, she was learning how to assemble car parts. She later took various jobs waiting tables, working for a bakery, and working at the local grocery store in the meat department and as a clerk.
She married and had three children, Kevin, Leanne, and Mildred (Mibs), by the time she turned 21. The family scrimped and saved for an annual vacation each year which they spent taking road trips, always camping along the way. After a few trips to California to visit her sister, she moved to El Cajon, California, in 1969 for health reasons. Pat worked for Alpha Beta grocery stores for the next twenty years.
In the early 80’s, Pat began attending Our Redeemer Lutheran Church when she married Theodore (Ted) Sween. Over the years she participated as a church Elder of Stewardship, worked in the Prayer Quilt Ministry, and trained and served in the Stephens Ministry. She and Ted were active members of the camping group. In addition, she volunteered in various positions at church, worked in the kitchen and food service for the VFW hall, helped countless hours at her daughter’s coffee shop, and gave of her time and skills to help others in their time of illness and need. She also worked as an assistant to Pastor Mike Mitschke as a wedding coordinator on the cruise ships in San Diego harbor, and she worked at the San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con events.
Pat was known for her generous heart and selfless giving of her time. She never shrank from a difficult task and loved to serve others. She had a heart for those in need and went out of her way to provide blankets, food, and toiletries to local homeless persons and the community food bank. Pat was a cancer survivor who spent her time in treatment bonding with nurses and sharing her faith.
Pat was preceded in death by her parents, John and Mildred Fitzgerald, her sisters, Betty Thompson and Marilyn Hunt, her brother, Joseph Fitzgerald, and her son, Kevin Engeseth. She is survived by her two daughters, Leanne Engeseth, and Mildred (Mibs) Hamilton, one brother and four sisters, nine grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren, who all loved her deeply.
Family and friends will gather Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 2:30 p.m. for a Graveside service in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Cassopolis, Michigan.
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