Patricia Joan (Kilkeary) Del Vecchio, 82
SIERRA VISTA — Patricia Del Vecchio entered eternal rest at Canyon Vista Medical Center on November 2, 2020 after a 20-month illness with a debilitating and aggressive form of Pleural Mesothelioma.
She was better known as “Toots” to a few lifelong friends. Her youthful presence, aura, and energy belied her age.
Pat was born January 15, 1938 Patricia Joan Kilkeary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to James Kilkeary and Margaret Barrett. She was predeceased by an older sister, Janice Uzeno, in 2004.
Her early years were formed growing up in Pittsburgh communities attending various local elementary schools and graduating from Dormont High School, Dormont, Pennsylvania in 1955.
While working at People’s Gas in Pittsburgh, she married William P. Del Vecchio in 1957 at Fort Lee, Virginia. They spent their military life traveling to U.S. and overseas installations ending at Fort Huachuca, Arizona in 1977. They had four children: William P. Del Vecchio, Jr. (deceased 2003, Ben Salem, Pennsylvania); Dianne (Monty) Dolieslager; Theresa (James) Del Vecchio-Aycock; and Cara Del Vecchio. The family created many cherished memories in their time together. Pat took great pride in her family.
She began a civil service career in 1979 with the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground (USAEPG) as an Administrative Assistant and later Training Coordinator, finishing a successful 20-years in 1999, and claiming many distinguished awards during that time. She earned an Associates Degree from Cochise College.
After Pat’s retirement from USAEPG in 1999, she continued as an active part-time worker in many diverse areas. She earned a Certified Nursing Assistant Certificate, and worked briefly for the Volunteer Interfaith Caregivers Program (ViCAP) as a driver, later becoming Assistant Director to ViCAP. Pat delivered Meals on Wheels, cooked at the Salvation Army, made meals for Peaches Pantry, and volunteered her time as Office Assistant at Good Neighbor Alliance for 2 years. Always searching for a new activity, she became a Barista for a local coffee company.
Pat’s love of running began late in her 40’s which led her to pioneering women’s running in Cochise County, actively involved in the Thunder Mountain Running Club. She was one of the first female finishers in the then Mule Mountain Marathon from Bisbee to Sierra Vista. She completed 14 marathons (including the Boston Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon), several half marathons and triathlons, and had qualified for the IronMan Triathlon in Hawaii. She was part of many team relay events that included her family members and close friends. Pat was competitive well into her 70’s, completing her last triathlon at age 75.
One of Pat’s proudest achievements was obtaining a Spinning Instructor Certificate in the 1990’s and becoming an instructor for Summit Fitness. She and her partner Karyl were the top female doubles racquetball team in Cochise County and held a 30-year standing in Arizona state tournaments as a continuous doubles team. Pat loved to dance, laugh, ski, bowl, do jigsaw puzzles, and play pool. Pat later pursued golf and the socialization with the ladies golf teams locally. Her more recent pleasures included gardening, reading, pistol target shooting, watching the Steelers and tennis, and playing her Native American flute. Pat became a zealous reader, mainly focusing on politics and current events. This proved a valuable deepening of her inner self-esteem, as she was not afforded many basic opportunities as a young child to develop to her full potential. In her lifetime, she surpassed obstacles, exceeded her potential, and became a self-made woman with numerous accomplishments.
Pat’s attachment to Pittsburgh kept her a lifelong fan of the Steelers, sharing this enthusiasm with her niece, Deborah Thurnell, Danville, Kentucky. Pat delighted in any activity she undertook and put her all into everything. She brought out the best and joy in everyone around her.
Pat was an active communicant at both St. Andrew the Apostle and Our Lady of the Mountain Churches and later served on several volunteer committees at Our Lady of the Mountain. She especially enjoyed her time devoted to the Divine Mercy group and participating in Bible Study sessions.
Left to deeply mourn her loss but continue to pursue the excellence she taught us are her 35-year partner, Karyl Lamb, Sierra Vista, Arizona; her three daughters Dianne Dolieslager, Round Rock, Texas; Theresa Del Vecchio-Aycock, Manassas, Virginia; and Cara Del Vecchio, Vancouver, Washington; her former husband, Bill; five grandchildren: Meagan Dolieslager, Mallory Hatten, both of Texas; Nicholas Aycock, Virginia; Christopher and Ryan Del Vecchio, both of Pennsylvania; two great grandchildren Addy and Maddox Hatten, both of Texas; four nieces and nephews; and her very special feline companion she took much comfort with the past months, Gracie Belle.
There remain countless friends made throughout her life not only in Sierra Vista, but in Pittsburgh, California, and Texas who will deeply miss her. Pat’s laughter, joy, and infinite energy and enthusiasm were endless. She touched anyone in her path with kindness.
Although Pat struggled daily to overcome the devastation of Mesothelioma, she never complained, kept her faith strong, her will determined, her attitude positive, and her gratefulness for life ever present.
A special word of thanks goes to the caregivers of Casa de la Paz Hospice and the incredibly dedicated workers in the ICU, Canyon Vista Medical Center.
Donations in Pat’s honor may be made several ways to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, 1615 L. Street NW, Suite 430, Washington, DC 20036; or online at: www.curemeso.org
A Catholic Funeral Mass was held for the immediate family on November 14, 2020 at Our Lady of the Mountains Church, Sierra Vista, Arizona.
Ironically, Pat was touched by the following quote (author unknown):
“Life is Not Measured by the Number of Breaths we Take, but by the Moments that Take our Breath Away.”