Patricia Sagawa

Obituary of Patricia Ann Sagawa

Patricia Ann (Ford) Sagawa was born on February 8, 1938, the only child of Oscar and Nina Ford of Gates, NY. As a child in Rochester, Pat struggled with a difficult home life, but enjoyed summers with her grandparents at their farm in McDonough, NY, and remained resilient. An excellent student, she earned straight A's and graduated as salutatorian from Rochester's Madison High School. She was a talented musician, finding joy and expression through the violin, her beautiful alto singing voice, and her mastery of the oboe. She further flourished her creativity through drawing, painting, and other visual art forms with a passion that would sustain her through her entire life. In her youth, Pat occasionally worked at her aunt's restaurant, the Copper Candle, and later took a job as an usher at a local movie theater, diligently saving her money to pay for college. She aspired to be a veterinarian and--as was required of women at the time--secured the sponsorship of a local animal hospital to gain admission to Cornell University's prestigious program. Unfortunately, a family financial crisis demanded Pat's nest egg and with it, her dreams of veterinary college. Recognizing the potential of this bright young woman, her boss at the theater paid the tuition and registration fees for her to attend the St. Mary's School of Nursing where she could work while earning her certification as a registered nurse. Nursing proved an exceptional fit for Pat's sharp mind and compassionate heart. She distinguished herself as an outstanding diagnostician in triage and in supporting physicians in the hospital. One of those physicians was a young doctor who had immigrated from Japan to pursue a surgical residency at St. Mary's Hospital. Ever eager to work with animals, Pat volunteered to help him with his cardiology research, which involved performing a forerunner of bypass surgery on dogs. Bonding in the dog lab, the two began a relationship that resulted in marriage in 1960. After, daughter Shirley was born in 1961. Pat and Hidetaka struggled to make ends meet, a situation that was compounded when the US Government enforced its quota on immigration from Japan and forced Dr. Sagawa to leave the country after he completed his residency program. Pregnant with their second child, Pat shuttled baby Shirley in a stroller between her parents' and her aunt's homes, while her husband relocated to Toronto, Canada. After baby Paul was born in 1963, the family reunited in Toronto, where they lived for nearly two years until Dr. Sagawa returned to the US and worked at a Catholic hospital that agreed to let him work without papers, withholding his salary until he secured legal status. Baby Carolin was born in 1965, while the family lived in a duplex on Hawley Street in Rochester. Back in the US for good, the Sagawas began to build a better life. Dr. Sagawa joined the medical team at Lakeside Memorial Hospital in Brockport, a small community about 30 minutes west of Rochester and became a US citizen. Hidetaka and Pat were able to buy their first home, at 32 Lancet Way in Brockport in 1967, and welcomed their fourth child, Jennifer, to the family. Despite facing challenges as an interracial couple during the 1960s, through hard work and a strong commitment to the community, the Sagawas prospered. Pat dedicated herself to being a loving, involved mother, always ready to play a game, read a book, build a snow fort, or help with a school project. She regularly volunteered with the local school and lead the Sunday School at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, the latter of which has a room that bears her name in recognition of her many years of service. In 1971, Pat and Hidetaka bought their dream home, a stately 70-year old mansion in the Town of Clarkson, just north of the Village of Brockport. By then, Pat was busy shuttling her four children to band practice, piano lessons, play rehearsals, and Little League games. She launched a local 4H club for the community, and coached her kids to blue ribbons at the county and state fair for activities from baking to garden design. She was known for having the spookiest Halloween decorations, decorating the most creative birthday cakes, coaxing beautiful gardens from tangled, overgrown beds around her house, and playing her oboe in the community band alongside her children. As her children grew older and began to leave for college, Pat became an entrepreneur. She won praise and a loyal clientele making pies, tea cakes and cookies for Hurd's farm market. Encouraged, she returned to her family's restaurant roots and opened The Four Cats Bakery & Cafe - named both for the El Quatre Gats cafe in Barcelona made famous by Picasso and for her four children. As she was wont to do, she took many of the young people on her staff at The Four Cats under her wing to mentor and help them find their footing on the path of life--much like the manager of the movie theater had done for her many years prior. In 1993, Pat launched a new venture with a business partner she had met at her restaurant. They opened Afeena Akoma African Imports, a gallery specializing in African antiquities as well as handcrafted masks, drums, and other artifacts. Pat's involvement in this project epitomized her love of learning about different cultures and artistic expression. She was able to share her passion with school and community groups when she brought the drums and masks into the classroom. A high point of her life was a trip she made to Ghana to meet the artists and their families, and to see first hand not only the culture and history of the pieces in her gallery, but also the positive economic impact they were having on the artisans. When Pat's husband Hidetaka passed away in 1995 following an aggressive battle with cancer, she closed the restaurant and focused on Afeena Akoma. Not long after that, she prevailed in her own bout with cancer, and subsequently closed the business and retired. In 2006, Pat made the difficult decision to leave her beloved home in Brockport. She relocated to Bethesda, MD, to be close to two of her four children and their families. She delighted in having family nearby, hosting birthdays and holiday dinners, baking cakes, and attending her grandchildren's band concerts and baseball games, just as she had for her own kids. Frequent visits from her other children and grandchildren brought her joy. As always, Pat found fulfillment and community through creative pursuits, studying the art of collage and creating a loyal following for her exquisitely decorated iced sugar cookies at her daughter's annual Mother's Day Tea party. Her circle of friends was small, yet dear; she loved her next-door neighbors, classmates from art class, and the people who came to help her in her home. Over the past few years, Pat's health declined, and she succumbed to congestive heart failure and lung disease at age 80 on September 1, 2018. She will be sorely missed by all who loved her. She is survived by her four children and their spouses - Shirley Sagawa and Greg Baer; Paul Sagawa and Susan Hayes; Carolin Sagawa; and Jennifer Sagawa and Michele Grosso - along with eight grandchildren and two step grandchildren (Jackson, Matthew, Thomas, Samuel, Alessandro, Hugh, Lloyd and Nina; and Francesca and Isabella). There will be two memorial services to celebrate her life: 2:00 PM on Saturday, September 29, 2018 St. Luke’s Episcopal Church 14 State Street Brockport, NY 14420 https://maps.google.com/?q=14+State+Street+Brockport,+NY+14420&entry=gmail&source=g 12:00 PM on Monday, October 1, 2018 St. John’s Episcopal Church 6701 Wisconsin Avenue Chevy Chase, MD 20815 https://maps.google.com/?q=6701+Wisconsin+Avenue+Chevy+Chase,+MD+20815&entry=gmail&source=g In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Pat’s favorite charities: Southern Poverty Law Center Dr. Hidetaka and Patricia Sagawa Memorial Scholarship Checks payable to Brockport Central School District should include the name of the scholarship fund in the memo and be sent to the attention of Jill Reichhart at Brockport Central Schools, 40 Allen Street, Brockport, NY 14420 https://maps.google.com/?q=40+Allen+Street,+Brockport,+NY+14420&entry=gmail&source=g
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