Kathryn Stanton Patty

Kathryn Patty in 1960.
Kathryn Patty in 1960.
Kay Patty was an integral part of campus life from 1922 to 1935 when, as wife of Dean Patty, she acted as unofficial hostess for President Bunnell on many occasions. She returned to campus in 1953 with President Patty and, as his first lady of the campus, endeared herself to students and faculty alike by her graciousness and by opening her home to all.

Her warm interest in the welfare of the students and abiding faith in the university's alumni were characteristic of her nature.

About Kay

Kathryn Byree Stanton was born in Durand, Wisc., and spent most of her childhood there. When she was in her teens, the family moved to Ellensburg, Wash., where she attended high school.

When attending the University of Washington, she became a member of the Phi Mu Sorority. Kay also met Ernest Patty while they were both students.

Jade monument indicating the location of the Kathryn Patty Memorial Garden. Photo: 1961 UA Alumnus magazine
Jade monument indicating the location of the Kathryn Patty Memorial Garden. Photo: 1961 UA Alumnus magazine

After Ernest's return from World War I, they were married. They parted on their honeymoon as she returned to Whitman College to complete her contract and he to the University of Washington to complete his senior year.

In 1922 they were living in Northport, Washington, where Mr. Patty operated a mine. Dr. Bunnell offered them an opportunity to come to Alaska, where Mr. Patty was to teach geology and mining at the opening of the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. They arrived in Fairbanks September 1922, when their first son, Ernest Jr. was a babe in arms. Their two other sons, Stanton and Dale, were born at St Joseph's Hospital in Fairbanks.

Fairbanks was their home from 1922 to 1945 and Mrs. Patty was active in community and university affairs. In 1935 Mr. Patty left the university and developed extensive mining interests in Alaska and Canada. They built a modern home in Fairbanks, which was later sold to Mrs. Essie Dale.

The garden, planted and maintained as it appears today. Photo: Kate Wattum
The garden, planted and maintained as it appears today. Photo: Kate Wattum

During the second World War, the Pattys spent their winters in Seattle. Their oldest son, Ernest Jr., was a squadron navigator with the 5th Air Force in combat in New Guinea. During thes period, Mrs. Patty was a volunteer worker with the Air Force at their Seattle Fitter Center.

She continued to accompany her husband North each summer for the active mining season and for many years they lived at Dawson, Y.T., where his various mining organizations maintained a central office. During the summer periods, she wrote on Northern subjects and published several articles and as a result was elected to membership in the National Pen Women's Club.

In December of the year of their 40th wedding anniversary, their oldest son, Ernest, lost his life in an airplane accident in Alaska.

The Pattys have always worked as a team, with Kathryn Patty working unobtrusively at her husband's side. This became more apparent when Dr. Patty returned to the University of Alaska in 1953, invited to speak at the University of Alaska commencement. A few days later, the Regents asked him to become president. After their arrival back on campus, her quiet dignity, good common sense and sympathetic understanding quickly transformed the tone of the entire university. She gave all her time and energy to public service. The university was being transformed into a modern university and many of her ideas had been incorporated into the planning.

During the bright summer seasons, the campus becomes a park, with its rolling lawns, groves of birch trees, flowers and shrubs. The Pattys took a personal "green thumb" interest in the landscaping. They spaded hundreds of wildflowers on Sunday drives and planted them tenderly on a broad slope in front of their home. Mrs. Patty refers to this rainbow-hued area as "our park."

The scope of her efforts have extended beyond the campus; she served two years as President of the Fairbanks Chapter of the American Association of University Women; she was a member of the central committee of the Alaska Crippled Children's Association; and was active in the Polio Foundation and many other organizations.

Kay Patty once said: "I guess I am an old-fashioned mother. When the children came home from school and opened the door to call "Hey Mom," I made a point to be there to answer them and have a peanut butter sandwich or something ready. Now that they are grown and have homes of their own, I have more time for the other things."

Kay died of a heart attack in Seattle on July 29, 1961. She was 65.


UA Site named after Kay Patty

The Kathryn Stanton Patty Memorial Garden