Patricia Ann Pugh Reifsnyder

Reifsnyder—Patricia Ann Pugh Reifsnyder, 87, peacefully, with her family, on September 24, 2016, at Gwynedd House, Foulkeways in Gwynedd, Pa. Pat was born on August 18, 1929, the only daughter of Anna Katharine MacKissic and David Daniel Pugh, at the hospital in Camden, N.J., where her intrepid mother drove herself after going into labor at a Philadelphia Athletics baseball game. Patricia grew up in Philadelphia except for a year in Caracas, Venezuela, where in elementary school she met Robert Navarre Reifsnyder. She graduated from Wilson College in 1950 (Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude) and received a master’s in history from University of Pennsylvania in 1951. That same year, she and Robert married and settled in the Philadelphia Mount Airy neighborhood, spending summers in Nova Scotia, where she led her children and anyone else who would follow on canoe, hiking, and camping trips. She taught political science and history at Friends Central School in 1954–61 and then at Germantown Friends School for 35 years. She was Democratic precinct committeeman (as it was then) for many years starting in 1966.

A member of Germantown Meeting in Philadelphia, she served on several committees, including the Marriage and Funeral Committees; was clerk of the meeting in 1985–1991 and again in 2000; and represented Philadelphia Yearly Meeting on the Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia, serving as co-clerk of the Interfaith Relations Working Group. She led Philadelphia’s 9th Ward from 1987 to 1994—the first woman ever to do so; was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1980; and proudly cast her electoral vote for Bill Clinton in 1992. She had hoped to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Pat read voraciously, everything from serious history to murder mysteries to cereal boxes, and often wrote papers on feminist and Quaker studies. A masterful genealogist who treasured her family history in Philadelphia; Chester County, Pa.; and Cape May County, N.J., she also loved sports—both participating (especially tennis and golf) and watching (the Montréal Canadiens, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Philadelphia Phillies).

In 2004, when she and Bob moved to Foulkeways, they stayed active in politics, reading groups, and their Quaker faith. In 2009, the Germantown Friends Class of ’67 established a history department fund in her name. The fearless spirit she had inherited from her mother led her to adventures around the world, but her true passion was teaching—and her impact on generations of students will long outlive her. A whimsical yet firm teacher, she remembered the strengths, struggles, and family lineages of every student she had taught, calling them all “petunias.” She led student groups to Washington, D.C., Greece, and Rome; volunteered as a teacher in Slovakia; and traveled to places as diverse as Wales and Tunisia. To every endeavor—from parenting to teaching, community service to friendship—she brought her irrepressible spirit, enthusiasm, curiosity, and infectious laughter, sharing her adventures with her Bob and making memories with her grandchildren.

Pat is survived by her husband, Robert Reifsnyder; three children, David Bancroft Reifsnyder (Laura J.), Abigail Williams Reifsnyder, and Peter Cliff Reifsnyder (Nessa B.); seven grandchildren; a half-brother, David C. Pugh (Karen); a nephew, Eric Pugh (Kate); a niece, Megan Pugh; a brother-in-law, David N. Reifsnyder (Nellda); and two sisters-in-law, Ruth Kahoun and Jeanne Reifsnyder. The family would appreciate donations to Germantown Friends School Community Scholars Program in Pat’s memory.

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