Burket-Truby Funeral Home of Oakmont Burket-Truby Funeral Home of Oakmont Burket-Truby Funeral Home of Oakmont
  Burket-Truby Funeral Home of Oakmont Burket-Truby Funeral Home of Oakmont
 

Burket-Truby Funeral Home of Oakmont

Upchurch, Patricia




Upchurch, Patricia (O’Neill) Pat Upchurch was born to the late Alice (Sullivan) and Thomas Vincent O’Neill in Philadelphia in 1926 and raised in Jackson Heights, New York. She also spent a high-school year in Port Arthur, Texas, where she recalled future painter Robert Rauschenberg being one of her classmates. It’s typical that she remembered his name. She had an unusually sharp memory and could often recall details about her children’s classmates better than they could. She attended School of the Holy Child, Rye, N.Y.(later Holy Child Jesus Catholic Academy) and spent many joyful summers with her grandparents in Durham, CT. Following high school, she attended Queens College, CUNY, until her marriage, when she left school and worked to support her husband's education. She later continued her studies, however, adding credits from William and Mary College and Somerset County College. At the age of 49, she earned a Bachelor’s degree from Queens College, CUNY—a source of great pride to her. Most of her family-raising years were spent in New Jersey—first in Fanwood, then in Basking Ridge. But her husband’s work-related moves led six years spent in England and the Netherlands, which served as bases for travels in Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and Italy. These trips were highlights of her married life. She continued to travel in her later years, going on solo tours of Greece, Ireland and the Soviet Union and making visits to her children across the U.S. She was a lifelong reader, subscribing to The New Yorker for decades and enjoying authors ranging from Agatha Christie to Alice Munro. She also loved movies and fondly recalled spotting actor James Cagney once on the streets of Jackson Heights. She had no trace of an outer-boroughs accent—the nuns had drummed it out of her—and she drilled her four children on their speech too, making sure no New Jersey-isms lingered in their elocution or grammar. After her marriage ended, she worked for the Veterans Administration as an executive assistant to the director of the VA Hospital in Lyons, New Jersey. She then moved to AT&T where she started as a secretary but soon acquired enough financial savvy to join the company’s tax-preparation team. On the home front, she was a canny and frugal money manager. She savored her workplace experience and deeply objected to the way that opportunities in the professional world were stacked against the women of her generation. Her untapped energy and strong will sometimes led to conflicts with those close to her. Her volunteer activities were numerous. She donated time to the Basking Ridge Library, assisting with its tax-help program. She belonged to the League of Women Voters and American Association of University Women (AAUW) and served on a variety of civic-engagement committees. Throughout her life, she had close friends of many nationalities and every race and creed. She met Eleanor Roosevelt twice. While a committed progressive in her politics, she couldn’t be put in a box. One of her great heroines was New Jersey’s Republican congresswoman Millicent Fenwick. She had a lovely voice, performing with the Somerset Hills Community Chorus and often singing around the house—usually “Que Sera Sera,” “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's an Irish Lullaby)” or “The Whiffenpoof Song” (“We are poor little lambs who have lost our way / Baa, baa, baa…”). She was also a gourmet cook, making Greek dishes, French dishes and Indian curries and chutneys. She loved to talk about recipes and restaurant meals. She subscribed to theater and symphony seasons, sometimes volunteering as an usher. Her favorite musicals included “My Fair Lady” and “Irma La Douce.” She loved Schubert’s Mass in G major and Bach’s “Air on the G String,” and greatly enjoyed the songs of Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich. Her children, in their teenage years, benefited from her support as they pursued their interests in music, theater, literature and dog-shows. She also accompanied them on many school fieldtrips. In later life, she was glad to know her children were close as siblings. She cherished her four grandchildren and her daughter’s dogs—but wasn’t wild about her son’s cats. She died on Oct. 3, 2020, at the age of 94—though she insisted she was 95. Preceded in death by her youngest daughter Melissa Mayernik, she is survived by daughters Margaret (“Meg”) Upchurch and Mary Kathryn (“Katy”) Fickenwirth (son-in-law Gerhard Fickenwirth), son Michael Upchurch (son-in-law John Hartl), brother Thomas O’Neill (wife Carol), son-in-law Thomas Mayernik, granddaughters Laura Dyas (husband Sam Dyas) and Emily Mayernik (partner Morgan Burns), grandsons Paul Fickenwirth (wife Emily Lyons) and Peter Fickenwirth, and her longtime caregiver Paula Edwards. Friends and relatives are invited to a commemoration of the life of Patricia Anne O’Neill on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 11 a.m., at the BURKET-TRUBY FUNERAL HOME CREMATION & ALTERNATIVE SERVICES INC. 421 Allegheny Ave. Oakmont