Carolee Patterson passed away on Oct. 26, 2013 at the age of 72 years old.
Carolee was born Oct. 25, 1941 to Betty Lee and A.J. Roy, both lifelong Sweetwater residents. After the death of her father in WW II, her mother remarried Hez Hawley, Jr., who shortly adopted the toddler as his own daughter. She later graduated from Sweetwater High School, married, and raised her three children. She earned her Bachelors of Arts in History and Spanish from Hardin Simmons University, driving to Abilene for her classes. While attending college, Carolee continued to participate in her children’s education and their extracurricular activities, teaching piano and swimming lessons to countless Sweetwater youths.
After graduating with highest honors, she began her journey in education teaching History and Psychology at Sweetwater High School. An extraordinary educator, she helped shape the lives of generations of grateful students who were all touched by her love of teaching and her commitment to education. Carolee took a personal interest in the success of each student, many of whom have remained friends for decades. Continuing her love of helping others, she earned her Master’s in Educational Psychology. She was not only a professional counselor; she was mentor and confidant to countless friends, co-workers, students and family for most of her life. Many friends, family and students sought her counsel because of her willingness to offer uncensored yet non-judgmental advice in a spirit of hopefulness and encouragement.
Carolee’s love of music and the performing arts were an integral part of her life. She performed with the Sweetwater Little Theatre, Abilene Community Theatre and various other community stages across Texas. She moved to New York City to pursue her passion for acting for six years. Carolee performed in many stage productions, was featured in several independent films and appeared in local commercials.
She was a proud member of Actors’ Equity. Carolee returned to Sweetwater to be closer to her family and resumed teaching at TSTC. She retired from her teaching career in August of 2013.
Possessing a tremendous sense of humor with a deep and hearty laugh, she was able to light up a room and brighten everyone’s spirit. With a bigger than life personality, people of all walks of life gravitated to her. Throughout her adult life, Carolee enjoyed having friends and family fill her home, eating, talking, laughing and singing around her piano.
The greatest pride and joy in her life were her children, grandchildren and family. She is survived by her sons, Matt Patterson and wife Kelli, Beau Patterson and wife Carol; her daughter, Heather Gates and husband Larry; her grandchildren, Cooper Patterson and wife Ashlee, Cameron Patterson, Katherine Patterson, Caden Patterson and Sadie Gates; her sister, Patricia “Tish” Brandt; her niece, Kirsten Young and husband Michael; her great-nephew Keaton; her nephew, Audie Reese and wife Amelia and children Keanu, Skye, Zyden and Atticus.
She is preceded in death by her parents and her sister, Dianne Reese.
Carolee will be dearly missed by all who loved her and whose lives were changed for the better by her life force and love.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be given in Carolee’s memory to Sweetwater Texas Theatre Acquisitions and Renovations (STARR 325 Oak Street, Sweetwater, Texas 79556), of which she was a founding member, or your local PBS station or a charity of your choice.
A visitation will be held at McCoy Funeral Home in Sweetwater on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 from 4-6 p.m. A Celebration of Life will be held and announced at a future date.