Patricia M. Neisser

Patricia M. Neisser

Patricia M. Neisser (June 25, 2014)

Patricia Mansbach Neisser of Newport Beach, CA passed away at the age of – well, you’ll have to figure that out yourself – in the city she had called home for 58 years.  Born in Detroit, MI, during the Roaring 20’s, Pat used to joke that her family shared a duplex in Motown with the notorious and deadly Purple Gang (her mother actually confirmed it), and if they didn’t frighten her, nothing could.  She lived a fearless life full of family, friends, and adventure. 

Her family moved to Los Angeles in the winter of 1933 and, espying the fruit her grandfather had playfully hung from the trees in their new backyard, she knew immediately that Southern California would always have a magical hold on her.  She attended John Burroughs Middle School and Los Angeles High School and had many fond memories of the less complicated, less structured lives kids were able to enjoy even in the midst of the Depression and WWII.  She left home for Mills College in 1946 and enjoyed the serious artists in residence there such as modern composer Darius Milhaud and his young protégé, Dave Brubeck.  Gifted with a fine soprano voice and a deft ear for accents, Pat and her dramatic talents found a welcome place on the college stage, and she maintained a passion for theatre her entire life.

She met Chicagoan Carl Neisser, the love of her life for more than 65 years, on a double date in Milwaukee in 1946, and they were married just after both graduated from college in 1950.  His company’s expansion to Orange County prompted the couple and their 2½ kids (Rick and Ken, Andy on the way) to move to Newport Beach in 1956, where Pat immediately jumped into the then small hamlet’s cultural, charitable and social scenes.  The Child Guidance Clinic, The Children’s Theatre Guild, and local stage productions at Orange Coast College, the Laguna Moulton Theatre, Lido Island Players, and a modern dance troupe occupied much of those early years as well as organizing exciting field trips to the “big city” for her boys’ elementary school classes.  By common consensus she was known as the most glamorous room mother of her – and perhaps any – era.

Classes in anthropology and drama at the newly opened UCI gave way to presences literally at the creation of South Coast Repertory and Newport Harbor Art Museum, which organizations have oft expressed their appreciation for those early and sustained efforts of support by both Pat and Carl.  Pat literally was one of the very first people in Orange County to host her own cable television program, “Broadly Speaking,” in the early 1970’s.  A lifelong interest in international cultural and social exchanges led to her primary and longest professional endeavor, travel writer.  For 35 years Pat journeyed literally to the ends of the earth (including both the Arctic and Antarctic) delivering her stories and pictures of adventure and discovery to myriad mostly small town newspapers and magazines.  She liked to think that her work may have inspired others to push the boundaries of their familiar.  And, no armchair philosopher, she walked (really ran) her talk. 

She leaves behind a grateful and admiring family, including husband Carl, sons Rick, Ken and Drew, daughters-in-law Win and Lin, grandkids Alexis, Emma, Nick, and Carl.  At Pat’s request, no public memorial will be held (all interested would be encouraged by her to get out and hit the road!).  As she loved animals and art in equal measures, donations to the SPCA and the Orange County Museum of Art in her name would be welcome, as would knowing that she inspired you to try something you hadn’t tried before. 

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