Dr. Patricia Louise Elliott (1929 – 2013)
Patricia Elliott, physician and cheesemaker died on Saturday, May 4, 2013 at her home in Rapidan, Virginia. She was 84.
Physician, cheesemaker, mother of seven, writer and poet, Pat Elliott continued to see patients until just before her death at age 84. Endlessly inquisitive – as liable to be reading and applying information from the Harvard Business Review as from the New England Journal of Medicine or classical Chinese poetry, Pat Elliott led a passionate life.
Born in Lansing Michigan on February 2, 1929, Patricia Louise Elliott was raised in Michigan. She went to college at age 16, graduating 3 years later, followed by a Master's degree in Zoology from Michigan State University by age 21. She & her husband, Howard Wentz, had two children when she decided to become a physician. By the time she graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School (Ann Arbor, Michigan) in 1958 she had two more children, born during her first and third years. A family physician, she moved to Adrian Michigan in 1959 after her internship where she had a full time practice. Her general practice in Adrian included the full range of health care, she also delivered babies and made house calls, and added 3 more children along the way, bringing her infants to work so she could nurse them between patients. Always aware of her patients' needs she cared for those without the means to afford it, established a crisis hotline before they were widely used, and developed a medical clinic for seasonal farm workers, staffed by volunteer physicians.
In 1974 she moved to Virginia where she continued full time practice, first in Richmond, and then in Orange County Virginia. She continued her care style, delivered babies, made house calls and with her office connected to her house she was always on-call. In addition she was medical examiner for Orange County for over 30 years being called at all times of the day & night to conduct on-site investigations. She also participated in a medical mission trip to Antigua in the early 1980's.
Throughout her life, Pat Elliott liked making everything herself, from bread to desserts, soap, paper, clothes and homemade beer. In 1992 Pat went to a Wine Festival at Montpelier, James Madison's presidential home near her in Orange, Virginia. A man was demonstrating herding techniques with his Border Collie. He happened to have two pups for sale and she came home with one of them. In a little while, she needed something for the pup to do and so she got some sheep for him to herd and a little while later thought about milking them. She found out that more sheep are milked in the world than cows, and that their milk is very special for cheese-making.
She taught herself to make cheese and by 1996, she had gotten Friesian dairy sheep, taken a cheese course in Wisconsin on the scientific side of cheesemaking and visited Greece to explore their art of sheep cheese. Dell, her foundation Border Collie had arrived from Wales in 1994 and became her right-hand dog. Perfecting her cheeses she started Everona Dairy in 1998. The only Sheep milk cheese dairy in Virginia, her prizewinning aged farmstead cheese is now sold at the finest restaurants and specialty shops across the country & markets in Washington DC/ Virginia Piedmont region. In 2011, Pat was inducted into the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, an exclusive society for dairy professionals for her craft, her dedication to sharing her knowledge of cheesemaking and broadening interest in sheep's milk cheese. Pat motivated all around her, bringing her dedication and forthright manner to bear in the quality and growth of Everona Dairy. Now a family business, Pat's Everona cheese was offered at this year's Montpelier wine festival as it has been for many years, the same place that the dairy began when she got her first Border Collie pup.
Her breadth of interests, knowledge and talents were revealed daily. Until very recently, during lambing season she could be found sleeping in the lambing barn: going down at night with a stack of journals and a cup of coffee to read by a small electric light. That stack was just as likely to have the Harvard Business Review, the latest New England Journal of Medicine, or a translation of classical Chinese poetry. A writer herself she wrote poetry and prose and articles about caring for patients. Her infectious passion for her work in medicine and cheesemaking motivated all around her. A natural teacher, she shared her broad and particular knowledge with everyone she encountered: patients, customers, staff and family. She believed in her community and worked always to improve it & bringing it together. She truly was a Renaissance woman.
Dr. Elliott is survived by her sister, Ellen Elliott Weatherbee; her children, Deborah Wentz, Susan Wentz , Natalie Carroll, Elliott Wentz , Sally Wentross, Patricia Wentz Burke, Brian Wentz; and fourteen grandchildren: Adrienne Carroll, John Carroll, Eric Carroll, Drew Lundquist-Wentz; Chelsea Lundquist-Wentz; Cyrus Wentz; Mason Wentz; Etta Wentz, Jacoba Wentross, Elle Wentross, Averi Burke, Kalani Burke, Sadie Wentz, and Oscar Wentz."
A celebration of life service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 1, 2013, at Johnson Funeral Home, Locust Grove, Va.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions for Dr. Pat Elliott to the Dairy Sheep Association of North America (DSANA), Attention: Brad Gregory, Treasurer Director DSANA , 345 Bunker Creek Road Chehalis, Washington 98532 firstname.lastname@example.org.