Patricia Eliot, conservation advocate, world traveler
Patricia (Pat) Peters Eliot died on Dec. 4 at the age of 87, surrounded by her children and grandchildren at home on Sonoma Mountain, whose beauty she helped preserve.
She was born in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 2, 1929, lived there and in Seattle, Washington, and at age seven moved with her family to Marin County where she attended first Dominican and then the Katherine Branson School. In the summers when she was 14, 15 and 16, she worked on the Jack London Dude Ranch, now a State Historic Park, and fell in love with that countryside.
She was married for over 65 years to Theodore Eliot, a career Foreign Service Officer, and accompanied him to his posts in Sri Lanka (where they were married), Germany, the Soviet Union, Iran, Afghanistan (where he was the U.S. Ambassador), and Washington, D.C. Their four children Sally, Ted, Wendy and Peter, were born in four different countries.
Pat received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees concurrently in 1969 from the University of Maryland. The latter was in early childhood education, and she subsequently taught in a charter primary school and a special school for emotionally disturbed children in the District of Columbia. While her husband was Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in the 1970s and ’80s, she was executive director of the Association of (non-profit) Homes for the Aging in Massachusetts, and was appointed by then Governor Michael Dukakis to two related statewide commissions.
The Eliots moved into a new home in Sonoma in 1988, and Pat concentrated her time and energies on conservation issues. Along with the late George Ellman, she founded Sonoma Mountain Preservation, which led the effort to transfer 600 acres of Sonoma Developmental Center land to Jack London State Historic Park, and to persuade the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance strictly protecting the scenic vistas of Sonoma Mountain. She also served on the Board of LandPaths, a countywide organization focused primarily on acquainting youths with open spaces. She and her husband donated to Sonoma County a conservation easement on their property and a loop at the southern terminus of the East Slope Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail.
Pat was an avid reader, mostly of fiction, and belonged to two book groups, one in Santa Rosa and one in San Francisco. She also belonged to a Sonoma women’s organization that entertained monthly expert speakers on important subjects. She thoroughly enjoyed the friendships she made in all of her activities. Pat had many close friends all over the world, some of whom she had known since nursery school.
Pat was an athlete. She was a passionate horseback rider, a member of the State Parks’ Mounted Assistance Unit and of the Sonoma Development Center’s Posse. She was elected to the Sonoma Horse Council’s Hall of Fame. She has ridden across Scotland and on the Iranian Steppe. She was a passionate backpacker and climbed both Whitney and Shasta mountains. She was also an excellent tennis player and fly fisherwoman.
In addition to her husband and four children, Pat leaves nine grandchildren, Eric, Anna, Caroline, Emily, Victoria, Sam, Margaret, Tom and Katherine, and two great grandchildren Grayson and Alasdair. The family is spread from Turkey to Australia and in California, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.
A memorial event will be scheduled. Those wishing to make a contribution in her memory might make one to the Sonoma Land Trust, LandPaths, Sonoma Mountain Preservation, the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and/or Jack London Park Partners, or to their own favorite nonprofits.