Mary Patrick’s life was devoted to helping people, as many people as she could it seems. In addition to raising 10 children, Patrick, who died on Aug, 12, served Millstone Borough as mayor and council member and represented Somerset on the State Democratic Committee.
“My mother was an extremely passionate woman and really refused to let the wrong things happen,” Patrick’s daughter, Maria Crimi said.” She would fight until somebody understood what she was saying and then do her best to make changes or whatever she deemed necessary.”
Crimi said her mother loved being involved on a town level because she could get results, but was also willing to go to higher levels to get what she wanted.
“She wasn’t afraid of going to Trenton and talking to any director or person necessary, even if it was the governor if she could, to basically educate people and let them know what was going on as far her community was concerned,” Crimi said. “She wasn’t afraid to step out of that small town to make things happen.”
Frank McArdle, who served on the State Democratic Committee starting in 1982—right after Patrick finished serving on the Committee—called her an “institution” in Democratic politics, statewide and within Somerset County.
“She had a great capacity for understanding people and what they wanted,” McArdle said. “And for those who didn’t necessarily agree with her, she told them why they should.”
According to an obituary released by her family, Patrick was born on March 3, 1926 in Newark to Carmine and Guiseppina Coppola. The family later moved to Hillside and Patrick graduated from Hillside High School in 1943. She was an athlete and played basketball throughout the U.S. and Italy, and played softball as well.
She worked for Colloids Inc. and Chicago Bridge & Iron in Newark and married Charles J. Patrick in 1951. The lived in Bound Brook for a while but later moved to Millstone where they raised their family. She was the town’s mayor and served on the council on and off starting in 1973 until 2005 to take care of her husband, who died before her. She also worked for the Department of Labor and Industry.
Crimi said her mother was passionate about the history in the area and took her kids to historic sites in Morristown, Princeton and throughout Somerset County. According to the obituary, Patrick’s political career began when she fought against overdevelopment in Millstone.
“She loved history and I think that’s why she loved Millstone, because it had such a connection to history,” Crimi said.
When asked what issue most concerned Patrick, McArdle gave a very simple, direct answer.
“People,” he said. “What they needed, a better life for everybody, that was what her whole thing was. She was very devoted to her family, having a huge family at that, and we were all part of the family. That was kind of the thought process of the old-line Democrats, that we all want family, we’re all one people trying to do for one another. When (someone) needs a little help, you extend a hand and if you need a little help, hopefully there’s somebody there to lend you a hand. That’s what her philosophy was. Unfortunately I don’t know if we have that anymore today.”
He added that Patrick brought perspective to her work in politics. While a lot of elected officials get big heads, he said that when you take into account people who can’t vote, people who aren’t registered, the amount of registered voters who do vote and the fact that most elections are very close, there aren’t a whole lot of people voting for the winners of elections.
“So when you put it in proper perspective, you really get a sense of who you are,” McArdle said. “Mary and I used to joke about that over the years. As I said, she was a feisty old gal who fought real hard for what she believed in. And she believed that people deserved a better opportunity, a better chance. And it’s sorry that she and others like her aren’t around anymore.”
One of her 10 children, her oldest Matthew, was a state representative in Cape Cod, Mass. Patrick also had 27 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
“We all sort of inherited this will that she had,” Crimi said of Mary Patrick’s children. “A lot of us have college educations, some of us don’t, nobody’s a genius, nobody’s exceptionally wealthy but we’re all doing very well in our lives. We’re all very successful people in that we know what’s important. That, I think, my mother and father taught us from a very young age. You don’t have to be the best and the brightest but you have to be the best that you are. And what’s important is not always — hardly ever actually — monetary. It’s your family and your neighbors and other people. They put a real value on the human race, they really did.”
Visitation is at Saint Joseph's Church on Monday, Aug. 15 from 5-8 p.m. Funeral is also at Saint Joseph’s Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 10 a.m. Arrangements by Cusick Funeral home in Somerville.