Cumberland Times-News

February 25, 2013


Cumberland Times-News

— BURLINGTON, W.Va. — Irene Compton (Blasdel) Patterson, 96, of Burlington, died Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 at her residence.

Born on Dec. 27, 1916 at Philadelphia, Pa., she was a daughter of the late Girard Davis Blasdel and Mary Worrall (Lukens) Blasdel. She also was preceded in death by her husband, Leo David Patterson on May 19, 1998; and a brother, William Gaines Blasdel in 1997.

Irene was raised in Swarthmore, Pa, and was an extraordinary woman who loved life and followed her own star. In a day when many women did not attend college and being in the middle of the Great Depression, Irene worked her way through Mary Washington College without any help from her parents, indeed, in the face of their objections. While there, she excelled at many things including being class vice-president and editor of the school newspaper.

After graduation in 1938, she returned to Swarthmore and was employed by the Franklin Institute. It was not long before she obtained her pilot's license and began flying as often as time and money allowed. Her ambition was to work for the Navy in a nearby aviation department and she spent many hours volunteering for them. The captain took notice of her and ordered his staff to hire her saying she was the best worker they had. The protest that there was no budget for another civilian employee was brushed off, "Put her salary in as nuts and bolts," he commanded.

She excelled in her work teaching navigation to pilots during the war and working her way into research. By 1949 when she met her future husband, Leo D. Patterson, she was heading a research project into night lighting on Navy aircraft. Leo "Pat" was among the pilots assigned to her project.

After they were married, Leo was posted to Cuba and they spent the first several years of their marriage there. After returning to the States, they decided to buy property in Burlington, where Leo's mother had been raised. After purchasing their farm, they moved to West Virginia and started a dairy farm. Irene decided to return to work and taught at New Creek Elementary School while completing her Master's Degree at Frostburg State College during the summers. She then went on to become principal of New Creek School and later of Fountain Elementary School.

Her interest in science never left her as she held an amateur radio license under the call letters of KA8LWW and she and Pat were active members of the Mountain Amateur Radio Club. She was involved in testing for amateur radio and helped with communications in emergency situations such as the storm of 1985.

She loved to travel and she and Pat took cruises and driving trips across country in their retirement years. They especially loved their trips to England, Germany, the Amazon, Iguazu Falls, Alaska and Death Valley.

Surviving are her daughter, Janice P. Chenger and husband Paul of Burlington; four grandchildren, Geoffrey Leyland Chenger, Caroline Irene Col-trane and husband Lee, Christy Marie Colon and husband Jeremy and Jackie Ann Street and husband David; and four great-grandchildren, Corbin Mason Colon, Riley Elizabeth Colon, Sydney Irene Coltrane and Audrey Charlotte Street.

A memorial service will be conducted at the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Davis Street, Keyser, W.Va., on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 at 2 p.m. with the Rev. Sally L. Bartling officiating. The family will receive friends at the church one hour prior to the service.

The Smith Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Floral condolences are welcome or contributions may be made to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 278, Keyser, WV 26726.

Condolences and personal reflections to the family may be left after Mrs. Patterson's obituary at