Ethel Mary Patrick, 64, passed away on November 8, 2012 surrounded by her loving family. She was preceded in death by her father James Wallis and her brother John Wallis. She is survived by her mother, Ann Wallis; her husband of 31 years, Michael Dale Patrick; and children Mary Ann Bjorkman (Chris), John Michael Patrick and Katherine Dale Winning (Matthew).
Also surviving are her brothers Dave Wallis (Deborah), Jim Wallis (Janice) and Robert Wallis (Andrea). She is also lovingly remembered by a host of nieces, nephews and extended family.
Born September 5, 1948 in southern California, she moved at the age of 8 to Brazil as part of her parent’s pioneering mission work. At this young age she learned how to navigate a foreign country and speak Portuguese. Upon graduation from high school, she returned stateside and attended UCLA. She graduated at the top of her class in English and was honored with membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
She returned to Sao Paulo, Brazil where she taught English at two schools where many international families sent their children: P.A.C.A. and Chapel School. She poured herself into the lives of her students. Many of them still talk about how Miss Wallis changed the direction of their lives by her example. Ethel thoroughly enjoyed this season of her life, traveling extensively abroad. She was never afraid of a challenge and bravely visited Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, England, South America and many other countries by herself at a time when it was very risky for a woman to travel alone.
In 1979, she felt called to pursue graduate studies in Communication at the fledging CBN University in Virginia Beach. Ethel excelled, earned her MA in Communication and graduated with honors.
While at CBN University, Ethel also met the love of her life, Michael Patrick, a fellow graduate student and journalist from Oregon. First and foremost, they were deeply committed to serving Christ in their work and in their lives. They served together as graduate assistants in the Dean’s office. They shared a love of travel, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. In June, 1981, they honeymooned in Hawaii.
Ethel had once thought she would never marry, but rather earn a doctorate and continue her earlier path as a teacher. But God had a different way for her to build into the lives of others. The Lord gave her four testaments in which she would write her life’s messages—Mary Ann, John and Katherine and her husband, Michael.
They made their home in Virginia Beach, where both Michael and Ethel worked at CBN. Soon other members of both their families joined them in Virginia Beach, including her parents, Ann and Jim Wallis. Eventually, God led them on a circuit around the country, related in part to Michael’s work. In addition to Virginia Beach, they moved north to Maryland and northern Virginia, then Charlottesville, westward to Oregon, then south to Atlanta, and finally returned to Virginia Beach. Throughout these many moves across the country, Ethel consistently modeled an enduring faith and provided a warm and loving home for her family despite the difficulties wherever they lived.
While Ethel grew up in the Church, Michael was much newer to the faith, which meant that in the practice of everyday life, they had plenty of opportunities to grow closer in faith and love in the Lord. Ethel’s intercessory prayer revealed the path. When things were difficult, Ethel never fought— instead, she interceded. With her gentle nudging, Michael and Ethel developed a lifelong habit of praying together every morning. Each of them would read a short passage from the New and Old Testament. They would talk about the challenges they faced together, and let nothing get between them. Then, they prayed. It was this practice— and God’s faithfulness to work in their lives— that cemented eternal bonds.
The family moved back to Virginia Beach in 1995, when Michael and Ethel joined Greenbrier Christian Fellowship, later New Life Christian Fellowship. They eventually became a part of a cherished, close-knit home group that has weathered life’s challenges for more than 15 years. Ethel’s modeling of home and spiritual life, and the priority she put on mothering, helped others to follow in her footsteps as she followed Jesus.
Ethel gracefully cared for her father, Jim, until his death in 2005, and when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she cared for her as well. Michael and Ethel enjoyed extensive travels, including a European tour for their 25th anniversary. Ethel fondly remembered the sound of birds singing and darting above the canals in Venice as her favorite place. Despite her own struggles with cancer these last few years, Ethel remained an example of graceful and sacrificial love. She modeled prayer and intercession as she poured out her life—and the life of Christ—into others. In her last days, Ethel remained peaceful and with a childlike, faithful trust in the Lord. She passed away on November 8, 2012, surrounded by her loving family.
The family will receive friends on Tuesday, November 13th from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Beach Fellowship, 1817 General Booth Boulevard, Virginia Beach. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, November 14th at 11:30 a.m. at the church, with a public reception to follow. Pastors Dan Backens of New Life Christian Fellowship and Ray Bjorkman of Beach Fellowship will speak, along with family members.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to:
* New Life Ministries Christian Fellowship to support young adults taking mission trips,
* Beach Fellowship to support orphans at their orphanage in Bolivia
* Or Chadesh to support her family’s ongoing evangelical work in Brazil via her brother, Jim Wallis.
Checks may be made out to the particular organization and sent c/o Michael Patrick, 969 Penhook Court, Virginia Beach, VA 23464.
Your heartfelt prayers and expressions of love are so appreciated by each of us.
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