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In Memoriam: Legend, Friend and Trustee Emerita Patricia “Pat” Driggs Kelsey

Patricia “Pat” Driggs Kelsey, a longtime friend and supporter of Colby-Sawyer, died at the age of 91 on Saturday, Aug. 30 at home in New London, N.H.

Pat was born August 2, 1923, in Philadelphia, the daughter of Edmund Driggs Jr. and Elizabeth Bluntschli. She earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from Russell Sage College in 1945. She was dedicated to physical education instruction, including for four years at Colby-Sawyer College, but her connection with the college continued long after her formal teaching days.

Pat was a member of the college's President's Advisory Council from 1987–1991, and in 1987 received the college's Town Award, which is presented to residents of the New London area who have shown extraordinary involvement in, and made noteworthy contributions to, the college. She served on Colby-Sawyer's Board of Trustees from 1989 to 1998 and again from 1999 to 2008. She was a founding member and executive director of the Chargers Club, a group dedicated to supporting the athletes and teams at Colby-Sawyer. When then-Athletic Director Judy Newcomb approached Pat about the need for a community-based athletic booster club to help support the teams in 1982, she jumped at the chance and called on her many friends in the community to join. During her tenure, the Chargers Club initiated an annual awards ceremony and banquet to honor the student athletes, a tradition that continues. “We wanted to make a fuss over what the student-athletes were doing,” Pat said. “They worked so hard and deserved some recognition.” An athlete in her own right, Pat was a standout golfer and won the New Hampshire women's amateur golf championship in 1955, 1956 and 1958. She also served as head coach for the college's field hockey team in the late 1970s. A lifelong lover and participant of all types of sports, Pat's enthusiasm for sports and Colby-Sawyer's place in it made her the Chargers' number-one fan.

“Pat Kelsey is one of the best friends the college has ever had. She was a wonderful coach, a founding member of the Chargers Club, and a fabulous trustee,” said Colby-Sawyer President Thomas C. Galligan Jr. “Over the years, Pat and her husband, Bob, were also incredibly generous to the college with gifts to support athletics and technology. In recognition of all that they have done to support the college, our athletic fields will forever be known as the Kelsey Athletic Campus. On top of all her wonderful service and generosity, Pat is a gem of a human being. Her laugh and smile are infectious and whatever else may have been going on in my life, I always felt better after being with Pat. Colby-Sawyer loves her, and we are honored the feeling was mutual.”

In 1974, Pat married the late Lt. Col. Robert “Bob” Pratty Kelsey Jr., a decorated WWII veteran. Two years later, when Bob accepted the position of executive vice president and treasurer of The Dana Farber Cancer Institute and The Jimmy Fund, Pat served as a trustee at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

“Pat Kelsey was a generous donor to the college and a valuable trustee, but I will most remember her as one of the most truly enjoyable golf partners,” said former college treasurer Doug Lyon. “She was a three-time N.H. women's amateur golf champion and continued to play well as she grew older. She loved playing in charity scramble tournaments where her remarkable short game skills contributed to many team victories. She played in these tournaments into her 80s and nobody was more fun on a golf course.”

In 1989 the Chargers Club's efforts helped to build the six original Kelsey Tennis Courts and in 1999, Pat and Bob were instrumental in the conception and completion of 30 acres of fields dedicated as the Kelsey Athletic Fields. This October, those three playing fields were rededicated as the Kelsey Athletic Campus in honor of the renewed impact her gift would have on Colby-Sawyer's student athletes with the addition of the Sally Shaw Veitch Track and Field, of which she was an avid supporter in all ways possible.

Pat and Bob also gifted the Colgate computer labs and supported other technological endeavors. Pat was a key figure in the 1991 completion of the Dan and Kathleen Hogan Sports Center, the indoor home for Colby-Sawyer's athletic teams. In 1987 she was awarded the Town Award and in 1994, she was awarded the Susan Colgate Cleveland Medal, the college's highest award for service.

Well established as one of the biggest supporters of Colby-Sawyer athletics, Pat was among the first inductees honored with a place in the Colby-Sawyer College Athletic Hall of Fame when the tradition began in 2006.

“What I loved about Pat was her wonderful, wry sense of humor,” said former Athletic Director Debi Field McGrath '68. “She had a way of cutting to the core by asking incisive questions, but always with a twinkle in her eye and a chuckle to end the conversation. Caring, fiercely devoted to family, Colby-Sawyer, and athletics, as well as 'her' Red Sox, she was an amazing golfer. I once saw her putt out of a bunker some 20 feet directly into the back of the cup. I will miss this wonderful, gentle soul, and we are all far better for knowing her and having her as a part of our lives.”

Beyond her dedication to Colby-Sawyer, Pat served as chair of the New London Recreation Commission and was active with the New London Garden Club. Pat's other devotion was to Kurn Hattin Homes in Westminster, VT, a school and residence for at-risk children in grades 1-8. Pat served as Board President for four terms. She was a member of the First Baptist Church, New London, N.H.

Pat's and Bob's extraordinary philanthropy, expressed through transformative gifts and distinctive service to the college, has helped Colby-Sawyer realize its aspirations. In 2003, Pat and Bob were inducted as inaugural members of the college's Legend's Society, a group whose members help the college reach new levels of excellence through extraordinary philanthropic lifetime gifts of $1 million or more.

Pat is survived by her son, Eric H. McGahey; her daughter Lynn E. McGahey; her stepson Charles P. Kelsey and her stepdaughters Deborah Kelsey Watts, Dabney Kelsey Hahn and Heather Kelsey Thomas.

Services will take place on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church on Main Street in New London, N.H. A reception will follow at her home at 28 Twin Lake Villa Road in New London and all are welcome. In lieu of flowers please send remembrances to Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, NH 03257; Kurn Hattin Homes, P.O. Box 127, Westminster, VT 05158; or The First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 336, New London, NH 03257.