On November 12th 2021 Patricia Ruja passed away. She passed in her room, in her house in Santa Barbara, on her own terms. She was 88 years old. It was her time. Her passing will be mourned and her absence from the lives of those who knew and loved her acutely felt.
Patricia was born in Sidney, Australia and emigrated to America in 1960. She was an unassuming rebel who was raised in a strict Irish Catholic home. Patricia’s rebellion was never about impressing others or getting attention. She did not sport any tattoos. Her fashion sense was stylish and non-confrontational. But if she wanted to do something, she did it. If norms and conventional wisdom discouraged it, she was all the more committed. She felt society and her family expected nothing more of her than an early marriage and children. Challenging the narrow expectations of her culture and time, Patricia worked as a stewardess, trained and worked as a nurse, worked in England and sin of sins, married an American from outside of her faith. Patricia had an intimidating work ethic. She worked as a nurse for 58 years. For most of her adult life she worked two jobs. She worked for most of the health care providers in Santa Barbara and some hospitals in LA. She also worked as a private nurse for the famous actor Peter Sellers in the 1960’s. She managed the library at St John’s seminary in Camarillo after earning a Masters in Library Sciences from UCLA.
She was a lifelong learner and despite the pressures of raising two sons as a single mother in a foreign land, she found the energy to attend Santa Barbara City College, earn her bachelors from UCSB and her Masters from UCLA, all while working full time as a nurse. During this time she also became a citizen of the United States. In her late middle age Patricia decided she would learn Spanish, so she attended an immersion course in Mexico and took classes and practiced with friends for decades. That her Spanish was always characterized by her unique Australian accent, and that no real fluency was ever achieved, is immaterial as the effort was testimony to her stubbornness and dedication to a challenge. Patricia had a graciousness that drew people to her. Her home was a special place for family and friends. She liked to dance and loved live music. She had a sense of humor that never left her and was a part of her incredible resilience. Patricia had a good life, but it was not charmed. Her mother, a beloved brother and her father all died relatively young. She was divorced and left to raise two boys without material support from their father. She was widowed twice. Though affected by these tragedies she was never bitter, she never gave in to pain, smiled readily and laughed easily. She never let tragedy detract from the good. As an avid gardener she literally smelled the roses.
Patricia is survived by her two sons Tim and Peter, her brother Gerad, her daughter Inlaw Nina, her grand daughter Madeline, her sister in law Josephine.
A memorial will be held in the 3rd week of February 2022 Covid and good sense permitting.