On Friday, June 10, the world said goodbye to a wonderful woman and gentle leader in the Girl Scout community, Ms. Pat Berlet.
Ms. Pat will long be remembered as a devoted mother, wife, and friend; a champion for those who had little and those who needed much. But those who loved her and ache with her passing, know Ms. Pat is looking down to ensure that those she loved do not linger long in mourning, but instead are picking up and carrying on.
Even in her final weeks, Ms. Pat's spirit of resilience and good humor saw many friends and loved ones through daily challenges. And she never stopped giving support to an organization that she loved so dearly -- the Girl Scout movement.
Through pain and suffering from the effects of her long illness, Ms. Pat never surrendered to self-pity and regret -- or retreated from public service. She truly embodied the words spoken by the late Senator Ted Kennedy "...individual faults and frailties are no excuse to give in -- and no exemption from the common obligation to give of ourselves." She impacted thousands over her decades of service to Girl Scouts and to the leaders she mentored in the community.
Many of you witnessed firsthand the millions of minutes Pat spent in Girl Scouting. Let's recount her wonderful Girl Scout legacy.
As a girl, she attended the beloved Girl Scout camp, Camp La Jita,the first year it opened.
She was a Counselor-in-Training and climbed the water tower at camp -- just because it was there! And even during the Depression and World War II, she saved her money to attend camp.
She earned the Curved Bar, an honor equal to our current Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting.
As a troop leader, Ms. Pat mentored the same girls from middle school to high school. Her troop was diverse and she encouraged acceptance of everyone even when it wasn't a popular idea. Most of the girls in her troop earned their First Class award and 12 of her "girls" were her friends on Facebook. In 1973, her troop nominated her for the Thanks Badge -- one of the highest volunteer recognition awards in Girl Scouting.
She was a devoted camp volunteer and held many roles over the decades, including camp director and camp nurse -- and her camp name was fitting, Shaman, Medicine Woman.
Pat served as Board President for the Girl Scout council and she was responsible for the purchase of additional property at Camp Mira Sol. She also served on GSUSA's National Diversity Training Volunteer Group, which focused on diversity in programs and membership.
She served as event planning chair for the Girl Scout's 75th, 80th and 90th anniversaries. Pat's work to ensure diversity in the council earned her the prestigious Jefferson Volunteer Award in 1991, which was awarded at the White House in Washington, D.C. Pat ensured that programs were available to all girls and for these efforts, she also received the Yellow Rose of Texas from Governor Ann Richards.
Professionally, Pat worked for more than 30 years for Student Health Services at UTSA and retired as director in January 2010. At the Sarah Roberts French Nursing Home, Pat served as a board member, worked on the budget and finance committee, and provided guidance on medical issues -- serving to ensure that the residents had the best in quality care. As Chair of Christian Women's Job Corp, Pat provided job training for unemployed and underskilled women.
Pat was the consummate volunteer. She held to the core values and traditions of Girl Scouts, yet embraced the future of the movement. Most recently, she developed and implemented the new Volunteer Advisory Steering Committee and new volunteer structure at Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas (GSSWT) to ensure that volunteers continue to have a strong voice in the council. Pat's vision was to build the most inclusive volunteer leadership structure, which will become the gold standard for other volunteer led organizations.
But Pat will be best known for ensuring that everyone, regardless of background or tenure in Girl Scouting, felt that they truly were an integral part of the organization.
Ms. Pat will surely be missed by her colleagues, her neighbors, her Girl Scouts, and most especially her family. What consoles us is the knowledge that she now enjoys the same love she so generously gave and showed to the world through her life. See pictures here of Ms. Pat throughout her Girl Scout life.
Memorial to Our Angel in Green
GSSWT will host a memorial service to honor Pat as part of its Service Team Training event on Saturday, August 13 at University United Methodist Church.
Please share photos of Pat's life to be included in a tribute video by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
. If you have a fond memory or enjoyable story you would like to share during the memorial, please contact Stephanie Finleon
(210-349-2404/1-800-580-7247 ext. 230).
Pat ... we will carry on ensuring that no girl is left behind. You have gone home now, guided by your faith. But we can still see you -- white hair tousled, shoved under a cap, already starting that wonderful fire ring, cooking another pot of Campfire Stew. Looking off into the distance for a group of girls to come by so you can share one last piece of wisdom, one last smile.
May God Bless you, Pat Berlet. We promise to carry on...