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Mary Patricia Abts

Nurse, volunteer, traveler, devout Catholic, great-grandmother

Mary Patricia Abts, 99, of Claremont, died peacefully on August 14.

She was born Mary Pat Carey on May 23, 1920, in Lakewood, Washington to John and Eleanor (Berger) Carey.

She married Richard M. Abts on July 23, 1945 in Portland, Oregon. She was a Northwest girl, spending the majority of her childhood in Tacoma, Washington, and later on in Wenatchee, Washington. She was active athletically and socially at Wenatchee High School, and was a member of several pep clubs, drama productions and dance committees.

She attended the University of Portland, graduating on her birthday in 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She then joined the Red Cross Air Evacuation Unit. With her nursing degree, she was redirected to Olympia, Washington to teach in the newly-created United States Cadet Nurse Corps to help alleviate the nursing shortage during World War II.

She and Mr. Abts, who was by then an MD, relocated to Southern California in 1947. They settled in the San Gabriel Valley and raised a family of 10 children.

After a time she resumed her nursing career at San Gabriel Valley Community Medical Center and later at Mountains Community Hospital in Lake Arrowhead, where she often flew with emergency helicopter crews while they transported patients. 

Impacting many lives, she had an active volunteer life, serving as a docent at the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry, as an active leader in Camp Fire Girls and Blue Birds, working at the San Gabriel Mission church as a member of the Altar Guild and, at the age of 70, as a Girl Scout troop counselor.

During the late 1960s and early ‘70s, she was also a volunteer mentor for teenage girls residing at the Maryvale girl’s home in Rosemead. Through the science museum she was invited in 1973 to Cape Canaveral, Florida to watch the last Saturn V rocket launch of Skylab, as well as the launch of a communications satellite at Vandenberg Air Force Base, near Lompoc, California, in 1974.

An independent spirit, she traveled throughout her life, covering about half the world and going so far as to work a sailing schooner through the Caribbean, and to hike across a glacier in Alaska after reaching it by helicopter.

She was a people person, and loved engaging in conversation, swimming, and participating in community organizations such as being a member of Claremont’s Human Relations Commission, Active Claremont, the American Association of University Women, serving as president of her homeowners’ association, auditing classes at the Claremont Colleges, all the while carrying out the duties of a Eucharistic Minister for the Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, taking communion to shut-ins and older patients in nursing homes.

The Abts’ were both active members and supporters of various Catholic parishes, including St. Luke the Evangelist in Temple City, The San Gabriel Mission, Our Lady of the Lake in Lake Arrowhead (while working part time at Mountains Community Hospital alongside her husband), and Claremont’s Our Lady of the Assumption. Matriarch

“With an ‘open door’ heart, Mary Pat was a friend and ‘surrogate mom’ to many of her children’s friends, as well as many nieces and nephews,” her family shared.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard; brother, John Carey; son, Richard; and daughter, Melissa Goldfield.

She is survived by her children, Carol, of Emmett, Idaho; Tom (Martha), of Rochester, Minnesota; Terry (Donna), of Carson City, Nevada; Mary Jo (Les) Watkins and Christopher, both of Claremont; Tony (Bobbe), of San Diego; Katherine Poitras (Robert) Bolin, of Portland, Oregon; and Robin Aguilera, of Rancho Cucamonga. She is also survived by 20 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

A funeral mass will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 11 at Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church, 435 N. Berkeley Ave., Claremont.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choice.

The family asks friends and donors to please let the Our Lady of the Assumption church office know how her life is still influencing your world, either in person or by calling (909) 626-3596.