Over the years Waddell and fellow colleagues developed a deep admiration of Westhafer’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for the latest research around learning and instructional delivery. They were inspired by the way she routinely went the extra mile to nurture students and maintain relationships well after graduation.
“She was far more than an excellent classroom teacher,” reflected MBU Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religious Studies Roderic Owen. “She served as a mentor and professional sponsor into the teaching profession for several generations of students.”
Westhafer retired from Mary Baldwin in 2010 after 26 years of service. Her accomplishments were many, but included chairing the education department, receiving a prestigious Mednick Fellowship from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, and establishing a free tutoring program that connected disadvantaged students in local public schools with MBU teachers-in-training. She also spearheaded the design and creation of the master of arts in teaching program.
Reflecting on Westhafer’s countless contributions to MBU, university President Pamela R. Fox recalled a conversation about the challenges and rewards of launching the master’s program.
“She said, ‘When we live and treat all others with honor and respect, the teachers we train honor their students,’” said Fox. “‘And this is a predicate for children’s success in school, and a foundation of honor and integrity for their lives.’ Patty did everything in her power to ensure our program reflected that ideal.”
Fox, Owen, Waddell, and Grove agree that Westhafer was wildly successful in achieving her mission. They — along with Westhafer’s husband, Terry — call the skilled, compassionate, and talented teachers Mary Baldwin’s education program has helped to produce her life’s work.
Outside of MBU, Westhafer is remembered as a loving wife, mother, sister, aunt, and grandmother. She is survived by her husband of 53 years, two adult daughters, and four grandchildren.
Her family will hold a memorial service at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 19 at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Staunton. CLICK HERE for more information.