|Colleen, Susan, Jill, Bob and David
Patricia was born to Ellen and Virgil Boozell on July 12, 1932, in Webster City, Iowa. The third child in a family of six, she grew up during the Great Depression. She attended Webster City High School and developed skills in pencil portrait rendering. After school hours, Patricia worked as a nurse's aide at the Hamilton County Hospital.
It was during this time she met returning WWII veteran William Francis, whom she married on July 2, 1949. Their first child, Colleen, was born a year later. By 1960 four more children had been born: Susan, Jil, Robert and David. In addition, the family opened their home to several foster children. Years later Patricia took care of her grandson and aging parents.
Patricia enjoyed meeting the challenges of homemaking. She encouraged her children to participate in educational and recreational activities and served as her daughter's Campfire girl troop leader. A believer in equality between the sexes, she took her teenage daughter to a talk given by feminist Betty Friedan when she spoke at ISU during the turbulent late 1960s.
When her children were grown, Patricia looked for a challenge outside of the home. In 1971 she accepted an accounting technician position at the Iowa Department of Transportation's Contracts and Accounts Payable department. Here she enjoyed the competition of advancement and using her accounting skills.
Patricia also held offices in several community organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary (president/secretary/treasurer) and the American Legion (treasurer). She is a member of the National TTT Society (Iowa DK Chapter), which raises funds to send underprivileged junior high school girls to summer camp.
Religion is important to her and she is a member of St. Cecilia's Catholic Church. After the death of her husband in 1995, she met and married Dutch emigrant Henry Vander Gaast. Together their combined families now consist of a dozen children! After 25 years of working, Patricia retired from the DOT and she and Henry are pursuing world traveling, sampling ethnic food, fishing and attending ISU sport events. She also reserves time for cross stitch, aerobics, weight lifting and her life-long love of reading.
IN HONOR OF MY MOTHER
I want to dedicate this brick to my mother not because she is just my mother but because she is such a remarkable person. She was married and began a family at a very early age. She gave up her childhood desires and devoted herself to her family unselfishly. She has always shown me how much she values her family. My father would have celebrated their forty-fifth wedding anniversary in 1996 had he lived.
Even though her world had been shattered, she continued to prove how remarkable she is by recovering and seeking out a healthy and happy life for herself instead of becoming paralyzed with grief. It was through her expressions of art, intelligence and good health that I grew to learn that she is more than just a mother. She told me how she loved to swim and wanted to learn to play a musical instrument. She was able to draw beautiful pictures for me. I learned that I could also draw and appreciate music and become a valuable person to society. Through her gentle guidance, I have learned how to raise my own children and instill in them the important family values she has taught me.