Cover photo for Patricia Ann Harper's Obituary
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Patricia Ann Harper

February 6, 1946 — March 27, 2023

Roseville, California

Patricia Ann Harper

Patricia Ann Harper was born February 6th, 1946 at St. James Hospital in the city of Chicago Heights, Illinois. Her parents were father Clarence Prater (37) and mother Margaret Prater (39). Clarence was a railroad man (as was her husband, John’s, father, Dorsey Harper) and worked for Illinois Central Railroad as a Supervisor for the Chicago Terminal. Margaret, her mother, was a stay-at-home Mom and doted on her daughter Pat. 

Her favorite childhood memory was when her father would return home from sometimes several days away and she would run out to the car and immediately demand he take her out for ice cream. They would leave and after the ice cream, Clarence would always buy flowers for Margaret as an apology for whisking Pat away upon immediate return home, and she would have dinner waiting.

Her second favorite memory was dancing ballet. Her mother Margaret, with her sisters Helen and Mabel Emde (all first generation girls born in Germany) made homemade Christmas ornaments and sold them for extra money–and this is how Margaret funded Pat’s ballet dreams. 

Tragically, Clarence Prater passed away from a heart attack at the age of 50, January 21st 1959. *An interesting note of history–Illinois Central Railroad-the Main Line of of Mid America-sent Margaret a telegram sharing their condolences and sadness toward Clarence’s passing, but also noting that it was their sincere intentions to pay respects at the funeral home; however adverse weather conditions necessarily required them to remain close to the job, just as Clarence had always done. They noted he was a loyal and capable supervisor and had many friends. They ended it with telling her to ‘keep her chin up’, and with ‘Best Regards’...a different time.

Clarence's death caused sudden and irrevocable changes and challenges for Margaret and Pat. Clarence's family came to the house shortly after the funeral and took most things of value, leaving them bereft.

Margaret went immediately to work, as did Pat-at age 13-and her ballet dreams and childhood was over. For the next 64 years of Pat's life she worked with almost no breaks. Her indomitable will and ability to make any situation bearable were the central tenets of her character that allowed her to not only survive, but thrive in her own way.

The next 16 years of Pat’s life are something of a mystery. They lived with Margaret’s sisters for a time, then when Pat turned 18 she moved away. Later on when Shane was old enough, the stories she would share of that time were like something out of the movies - Almost Famous with a dose of Easy Rider thrown in. 

She was married, briefly, before meeting and marrying the love of her life–and another original, much like herself, John Allen Harper. They were married November 22nd, 1969 in Middleboro, Massachusetts–where they met while working at Western Union. In going through old notes and paperwork, a postcard from John sent to Patricia was found with the note ‘Hi Rattlesnake, having a wonderful time, wish you were here!’Love John with a (Ha!) next to it..

The following January they had their only son, Shane Michael Harper. Shane was born on January 13th, 1970 in Massachusetts Osteopathic Hospital. As told by Pat, she and John drove through a snowstorm from rural Massachusetts to Boston in a broken down VW Beetle. After dropping Pat off at the hospital and assuming a long nite/day of labor, John promptly went off to the famous bars of Boston Commons–and of course, Shane arrived only a few hours after John’s departure–with the hospital nurses calling the various bars to track him down and inform him of his new son. John and Pat went to the first hospital they could find and interestingly, the hospital was in the midst of shutting down its maternity ward-Shane was the only baby in a maternity room that could hold 50 babies. Pat loved telling that story, as well as giving her husband grief (but always with a laugh and that famous smile) for missing Shane’s birth.

In 1971 John and Pat decided to move to California, driving a friend's RV cross country with Pat following in the VW, to live with his parents in Barstow while he searched for work. Eventually they found a home to rent on Clark St right off Route 66-Main St Barstow. John found work as a carpenter while Pat stayed home with Shane while also taking in other children to watch to make extra money.

In 1974 John–who always had a dream to own a ranch–and who had just been hired on with Caltrans, after a job he had as a weatherman at Goldstone Space Complex to launch a satellite ended when the satellite in question blew up, and Pat who also found a job with Southern California AAA. They decided to buy a 75 acre–and the term here is used very loosely and generously–’Ranch’ at 35453 Lenwood Road in Hinkley Ca outside Barstow. The ranch was their pride and joy–and the biggest money pit you could ever imagine. 

But it all worked because of Pat. She was someone who could make any situation or moment seem like the right one–even when everything was going wrong–as it almost always did with the ranch. Through flood(s), weeks at a time of no electricity or water, living in a one bathroom home that was always on the verge of another major repair, through Pat’s sheer force of will, she made it seem like the best place to be.

Between John learning how to fix anything and everything, Pat and he planting almond and fruit orchards, acres of vegetables, raising bees, raising chickens and pigs, owning horses and getting into the Show Horse business with friends, buying a brand new jeep, stripping it down to its frame to race it in Class V off road racing (finishing several races, the Firecracker 250, Mint 400, and the Baja 1000 to mention a few) it ALL worked because of Pat Harper. 

Every wild dream John had or adventure to be taken, she took it all in stride and figured it out with a smile on her face and emanating that confidence and feeling that this was all exactly how it should be.  

They lived on the ranch from 1974 to 1990. In the mid 80’s both John and Pat became very involved in the competitive youth soccer world, with John being elected the President of the California Youth Soccer Organization (CYSA) for six years straight and Pat becoming the girls Olympic Development Coordinator for 4 years–a prestigious role that she was appointed to by the junior Olympic National Committee. Pat–always and forever supporting and providing for her son Shane’s soccer career, also coached for several years among several other roles she assumed–always whatever it took to make it work.

In 1990 they finally had their fill of the ranch and moved to Barstow Heights and a home that actually had central air and heat–Pat was thrilled. Pat’s career with AAA continued to grow and in the late 90’s she was promoted to Manager. She loved her job at AAA, the friends she made and people that came in for trips–and all the while commuting from Barstow to Victorville 5 days a week in her prized first year Mazda Miata.  

In 2008, after years of pestering by her son Shane and daughter-in-law Kimson, they moved from Barstow to Roseville, California to be closer to their granddaughters: Courtney Paige and London Claire Harper. 

Pat and John built their first new home together and furnished and decorated it exactly as Pat always wanted. She met new friends, traveled, spent much time with her granddaughters, and thoroughly enjoyed her retirement with her husband John.  

Pat Harper lived life on her terms, her way, without ever a shred of regret or self pity. As her health took a violent and swift turn for the worse, she weathered it all with jokes, smiles and frankly smart ass comments about how her son should have been around more (knowing it would tease her son as she loved to do). 

Besides her obvious physical challenges, you would have never known she was sick–most people will never be quite as alive as Pat Harper was in her last months and weeks.  

Pat Harper passed on March 27th 2023–exactly 29 years to the day that her mother, Margaret Prater passed, March 27th 1994. She is survived by her Husband John, Son Shane, Granddaughters Courtney Paige and London Claire, Daughter-in-Law Kimson and many friends that she considered family, more than friends. 

A Life Lived as only Pat Harper could. We Love You and Honor your Spirit. 

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Past Services

Celebration of Life

Friday, April 21, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Pacific time)

Heritage Oaks Memorial Chapel

6920 Destiny Dr,, Rocklin, CA 95677

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