We’re changed now. Not because she left us, but because she touched us.
Pat DeFrance passed away at her home in Jackson Aug. 6, 2013, after a long illness. She was 61.
Pat was born in a small town in Nebraska July 23, 1952, to Dale and Grace Andersen. She grew up in Broken Bow, and graduated from college in Kearney. She met Jerry DeFrance, and they married Aug. 26, 1978. They made their home near Jefferson, S.D., and both commuted to work in Sioux City, Iowa.
Their daughter, Audra, was born in 1981. The three of them moved to Jackson in March 1984, and owned and operated a gifts and collectibles shop and a gallery in the Pink Garter Plaza until October 1999.
Pat then worked for the next several years in the State of Wyoming’s Workforce Development Center while Jerry worked at The Jackson State Bank and Trust before their retirement. She was an active volunteer, especially for Chamber activities and the Arts.
In 2008, their daughter Audra married Brian Gilman of Portland, Ore., and the DeFrance family grew to recently include Chase and Brandt Gilman. She and Jerry always found it to be such a blessing that Brian’s family blended so effortlessly and lovingly with her own.
Pat’s life and interests clearly had many facets, but always centered around her husband Jerry and their daughter Audra, and Audra’s family. On several occasions she commented that she was put on earth for two reasons…Audra and Jerry. Her big heart also always had the energy for a large cadre of special friends.
Her smile was famously a real one, infectious and experienced. She could light up a small office or a large room with that smile and the positive attitude that made it work. She was always supremely and famously non-judgmental.
Her battle with cancer began in 2002, but offered long periods of reprieve that permitted some wonderful travel and long visits with Audra and Brian in Portland. She never ceased to praise her doctors, and the angels in the Oncology Department at St. John’s Medical Center. They became far more than care-providers, they became friends. At the very end of her life, that circle grew to include the dedicated staff from Hospice.
Pat was preceded in death by her father, Dale, all grandparents and numerous aunts and uncles.
She is survived by her husband, her daughter Audra and her husband Brian and grandsons Chase and Brandt; her brother, Myron; nieces and nephews, cousins and many very special friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider a charitable donation to St. John’s Medical Center Oncology Department, or the American Cancer Society, or a charity of your choice to benefit children.
The Valley Mortuary was in charge of final arrangements.
A Celebration of Pat’s Life will be Saturday, Aug. 17, from 5 - 8 pm with a service at 5:30, in the Sagebrush Ballroom at Spring Creek Ranch, 1800 Spirit Dance Road.
Published in Custer County Chief, Aug. 15, 2013