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Patti Livingston: dancer, storyteller, loving matriarch

Dancer, storyteller, loving matriarch

Patti Mattison Livingston, a resident of Claremont for more than 70 years, died at her home in Upland on December 14, 2015. She was 92. 

She was born in Medford, Oregon on March 12, 1923, the only child of Helen and Allen Mattison. She grew up in Medford and in several towns in California. Her father was an engineer who helped construct high power lines across the western United States. The family often moved with him as he changed job sites, and Patti had to change schools almost every year.  She was blessed with wonderful social skills, which she attributed to learning to make friends during her itinerant childhood.

While living in Pomona, Patti met her future husband, Clarence “Doc” Livingston, a pilot in the Marine Corps during WWII. The couple married in 1943. Being an only child led her to dream of having a large and active family. After the war, they settled in Claremont and lovingly raised their four children on a 40-acre lemon grove.     

Mrs. Livingston was involved in many school and scouting organizations as well as the Junior Women’s Club. She was also a proud founding member of the Claremont Friends of the Library in 1957. She took a proposal to the Junior Women’s Club and, after much planning and numerous meetings, the organization took shape. 

Patti and Doc were avid swing dancers and jazz aficionados. They spent countless weekends following their favorite bands across southern California, often developing lasting friendships with them. They also spent hours practicing their amazingly fluid and graceful dance moves in the family living room with their children as an alternately fascinated and bored audience. Mrs. Livingston loved creative writing and took writing classes when her children were small. She sometimes took work designing print ads for various local businesses. When the children got older she worked as the manager of Foster’s Jewelers in Claremont.

In 1980, the Livingstons moved to Cairo, Egypt to work on a project for US AID. They lived in Cairo for seven years and found the abrupt change of culture very exhilarating. Mrs. Livingston wrote long and evocative letters home to friends and family describing their experiences. When they returned from their Egyptian adventure, Doc’s health was failing and Patti devoted herself to being his tireless and loving caregiver. This nurturing greatly enhanced his final years, and capped a truly unique and enduring marriage. 

In 1994, Mr. Livingston passed away. In 2003, Mrs. Livingston sold the family home in Claremont and moved into a cottage at Claremont Manor. At the Manor, Patti was able to return to her writing, and she devoted herself to telling the story of their experiences in Egypt. She also joined a creative writing class and wrote many short stories about various subjects including memories from her childhood. She had several of these stories published in various anthologies and also the Manor newsletter. She made numerous friends at the Manor with her inimitable social acumen.

Patti spent her last years at Gracious Living in Upland near her daughter Margaret. No matter what her physical challenges were, she faced them with grace and a positive outlook. She was grateful for everything her caregivers did for her.

Patti is survived by her children Rosemary Livingston, Victor Livingston, Marilyn Livingston and Margaret Weiss; her grandchildren Tracy, Kenneth, Trish, Victoria and Dominick, and her great-grandchildren Lily, Joshua and Grant. She was loved by many younger friends who called her their “other” mother.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, January 22 at 1 p.m. at Todd Memorial Chapel, located at 325 N. Indian Hill Blvd. in Claremont.