Patricia Ryan Wessa

Date of Birth

July 24, 1922

Date of Death

July 17, 2009

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Patricia Ryan Wessa (Smyth) was born July 24, 1922 in Madera CA. She recently passed away peacefully in her sleep on July 17, 2009.

Patricia was the daughter of Edwin F. Smyth and Ethel Bidwell Smyth of Santa Barbara. The Bidwell family are descendants of John Bidwell, one of the early settlers of California. He was most well known for having organized “the first overland wagon train to California.”

Patricia graduated from Santa Barbara High School and Santa Barbara State College (UCSB).

During WWII Patricia joined the Women’s Air Service Pilots (W.A.S.P.), class of 44-W-7; she completed her flight training on a Stearman Biplane, Model 75. While stationed in Sweetwater, TX, she met her husband, Capt. Percy B. Coker, a pilot with the U.S. Air Corps. They married in 1944, but their marriage ended in tragedy when his plane crashed late that same year while “flying the hump” over India. Patricia and Percy are survived by their son, William S. Coker.

A few years after her loss, she met and married in 1949, a career Naval Seaman, Charles M. Wessa, of Santa Barbara, whose grandparents opened the first bakery in Santa Barbara. Patricia and Charles shared forty adventurous years together, traveling and raising their children, until he passed away in 1989.

After her children were grown, Patricia worked for the California State Department of Health; she was a department supervisor until her retirement.

Patricia loved and enjoyed her children, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren. She was also cherished by her many life-long friends. She will be dearly missed by all, especially her children, who appreciated her wonderful humor, spark of life, and endless wisdom… She was an outstanding woman.

Patricia is survived by her sons, William S. Coker and Jeffrey M. Wessa; and her daughters, Patricia K. Jansen and Priscilla A. Czarnecki; and her seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren. One son, Charles H. Wessa, predeceases her.

Graveside services will be held on Friday, August 21, 2009, 11:00 AM at the Santa Barbara Cemetery.

“High Flight” By John Gillespie Magee, Jr

“Oh, I have slipped the surely bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings; sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. Hovering there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long delirious, burning blue, I’ve topped the wind-swept heights and easy grace, where never lark or even eagle flew; and, while with silent, lifting mind, I’ve trod the high interspaced sanctity of space, put out my hand, and touched the face of God”.

Memorial contributions may be made to: The Santa Barbara Botanical Garden 1212 Mission Canyon Rd. Santa Barbara, CA 93105


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