Rosemary Dundas Patton
Rosemary Dundas Patton died of cancer Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, at her daughter’s home in Piedmont, Calif., with her family by her side.
Rosemary was born Dec. 16, 1933, in the southern Cotswolds of England, second of five children of Vice Admiral John G.L. Dundas and Ruth Coleman, of Minneapolis. She spent her childhood in England and Scotland.
After the war, she moved with her family to Southern Pines, where she attended Southern Pines High School, finishing second in her class in 1950. She graduated from Duke University in 1954.
While at Duke, Rosemary met Robert Gray Patton, then a medical student. They were married at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines on Oct. 2, 1954. After Gray completed military service and medical training in pediatrics, they moved in 1961 to San Francisco. From the start, Rosemary enjoyed a rich life in San Francisco, with many volunteer activities, sports (favorites being horseback riding, tennis, and hiking in the mountains), and caring for her three daughters Mary, Sarah and Susannah.
From her volunteering at the Asian Art Museum and term as board member of the Museum Society of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Rosemary moved on to a professional career in literature and writing. She earned a Master’s degree in English literature in 1980 from San Francisco State University, then taught composition and literature in the English department there for 15 years.
With her colleague Sheila Cooper, she published a college textbook, “Writing Logically, Thinking Critically,” in 1990. The seventh edition went to press in 2012.
Over the years Rosemary enjoyed and at times led several book groups, and after retiring from San Francisco State, she joined a small group that took up memoir writing. They published two books, “The Subject of Our Lives” and “Proust, Pickles, and Paychecks.” During this time, she also served on the boards of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland and the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco.
Rosemary will be missed by her family and many friends for her warmth, humor, intelligence and, especially, her good conversation. As described by a close friend, she was “the perfect blend of an active mind with a generous, all-encompassing heart.” Her curiosity and adventurous spirit led her to explore California and the Western states widely as well as other places worldwide. When at home, she always had time for her five grandsons, who each enjoyed a special trip with her and Gray when they turned 11.
She is survived by her husband, Robert Gray Patton; daughters Mary Patton (Roger Phelps), Sarah Patton (Peter Feichtmeir) and Susannah Patton (Christopher Noble); sisters Deirdre Newton and Alexandra Todd; brother John Dundas; grandsons Robert Phelps, Nicholas Phelps, Ian Feichtmeir, Samuel Noble and Thomas Noble. She was preceded in death by her sister Elgiva Watson in 2011.
A celebration of Rosemary’s life will take place on Jan. 5, 2013, at the Observation Post in the Presidio, 211 Lincoln Blvd., San Francisco.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations in her name to the Helen Diller UCSF Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Yosemite Conservancy, or the San Francisco Achievers Program, 2526 Vallejo St., San Francisco, CA 94123.