In 1932, Patty’s family relocated to Twentynine Palms where the family opened Graham’s restaurant, which is regarded as the town’s first café. Patty waited tables for 50 cents a week and when she was able to drive (at 12), she often delivered hot meals to customers in ill health who couldn’t cook for themselves.
This early exposure to assisting others who were less fortunate is likely the cornerstone of her continued participation with charity and service groups as a volunteer well into her 80s. The café was a successful and expanding restaurant that continued 15 years beyond their stewardship, which ended in June of 1941. The sale coincided with Patty’s graduation from 29 Palms High School with a class size of 19.
The family returned north where Patty attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, prior to receiving her BA from the University of Oregon.
After working both in an office and as a substitute teacher, Patty married Jim in 1948.
The first 26 years of that marriage involved being a U.S. Navy wife and facing the challenges that military life imposes; being separated when the spouse is assigned overseas.
These assignments varied between 7 months and 12 months and Patty and the children would remain stateside. Patty thoroughly enjoyed the Navy, which afforded them family foreign duty assignments that included Rio de Janeiro, Brazil , Subic Bay, Philippines and Yokosuka, Japan. I
n addition, Patty set up homes in Monterey, Port Hueneme, (twice), McAlester, Oklahoma, Great Lakes, Illinois, Washington, D.C. (twice) and San Diego, which was her final Naval base residence. While the duty assignments were typically two years, the last Washington assignment was four years, the final year of which saw Jim serving in Vietnam.
Throughout her tenure as a Navy wife, Patty tirelessly volunteered at the base hospitals, assisting nurses and patients during the hours her children were at school.
In addition, she also resumed her substitute teaching and even served as a scout leader for several of her boys.
Although Jim (and Patty) retired from active duty in 1974, her voluntary contributions continued immediately by becoming intimately involved with the San Diego Red Cross Chapter, helping construct one of the first Vietnamese refugee camps in nearby Camp Pendleton.
Patty’s role in organizing shelter, food and clothing for thousands of refugees fleeing Vietnam after the U.S. withdrawal was hands on for over a year.
Of all her volunteer activities, Patty was most proud of her contributions to the residents of the Vietnamese “tent city” at Camp Pendleton in 1975-76.
In 1985, Patty and Jim moved north to Brookings, Oregon, the first city on the coast north of the California border. In Brookings, Patty served as coordinator of the Adult Respite Day Care Program for the Chetco Senior Center from 1997 to 2006.
In 2008, Patty and Jim relocated to Mary’s Woods Senior Living Community in Lake Oswego, Oregon, where she died on Nov. 12, 2019, at the age of 96.
The daughter of Hilda Holderman Graham and James Graham, she was born June 27, 1923, in Medford, Oregon.
She was preceded in death by her son Dale Graham Burfield and her granddaughter Alison Garrett Burfield.
She is survived by her sons James Roderick Burfield, of Falmouth, Massachusetts, William Bradley Burfield, of Wilmette, Illinois, and Curtis Brent Burfield, of Woodbridge.
She is also survived by her 13 grandchildren, her 12 great-grandchildren and her nephew, Patrick Tindall, of Fairview, Oregon.
According to her wishes, Patty will be cremated and remain in Jim’s care until the time of his passing. At that time, the surviving sons will organize a joint celebration of life for the two of them. In the meantime, please join her family in celebrating her remarkable life, her impressive list of accomplishments and their constant love, respect and appreciation for her.