Reflecting on Friendships: Thankful for Pat

Reflecting on Friendships: Thankful for Pat

Reflecting on Friendships: Thankful for Pat

I never imagined that I would become a fourth generation Funeral Director; I guess my crystal ball was in the shop some 24 years ago.

For the last 23 years I have been on this amazing journey of having the privilege of walking along side the families in our community in their darkest hours. My career has become so much more than a job or a paycheck, this profession has so many teaching lessons. The number 1 lesson I have learned thus far is that relationships are key to our lives.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know so many of the families we have served and be blessed and humbled by them. But usually my time with our families is brief, I walk a part of the journey with them, hopefully equipping them to make the next steps in the best way they can. It’s different with my coworkers, the people of my everyday. But yes, I’m happy to say that because of these many years together, I have good, deep and treasured friendships with the team of people I work with.

One of my deepest & strongest relationships is with a dear colleague who I have known for the last 20 years. We have shared our lives together becoming part of each others’ family. In the twenty years we have known each other we have supported each other in births, birthdays, weddings, divorces, family issues, life’s victories and life’s struggles.

My dear friend Patricia Kolstad (our Journey Mercies blog series author) is now transitioning out of her full-time role as Director of Community Relationships & Resources to a part time role in our company. Pat has been the pioneer & leader in our profession for education within our community. I have had the privilege of watching her create an idea on a cocktail napkin that over the last 13 years has blossomed into a thriving and incredibly unique component of our local profession. As I write this, I have a great mix of emotions that run thru my mind and heart. I am always beaming with pride when I think about how many great relationships and connections Pat has made over the years. For me personally, I treasured Pat’s consistency in our relationship.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from Pat:

  1. Life is Seasonal – If you embrace life and the changes that come your way, you can over come any obstacle that is on your path. Pat decided years ago to blaze her own path and she never looked back.
  2. Drive – When you give your 110% everyday of life you will go farther than you could ever dream of. Your drive can transcend you and affects others around you. Not many people even come close to the inner-drive I have witnessed in Pat. You would think after 20 plus year in this profession she would let up a little, but no, this grandma is still daily pushing the peddle to the metal!
  3. Care & Concern – When you have genuine care & concern for others you will never have regrets about how you have treated them.
  4. Consistency – This attribute makes for credibility in life, this is a discipline and a choice. Pat has not failed to be there for me, her constant and intentional friendship never faltered, she is someone I can rely on and trust.
  5. Truth – This has a different meaning to everyone. Pat’s truth (or core) has been one of love, compassion, honesty, care, concern, and an undying love for her friends and family.

Pat, I am grateful for my friendship with you, you have been a bright light in a sometimes dark world. You have become one of my greatest mentors and friends.

Your passion & contributions to our company, community and profession are only part of your legacy. Your legacy has been defined by your thoughts, words, actions, character, and your destiny. You have arrived . . . and the journey has just begun!

Namaste (I see the divine beauty in you) my friend!


I love you dearly Pat , thank you with gratitude.

– Neil

If you know Pat you are undoubtedly better for knowing her. Share your story about Pat below, it can be anything – we just want to make her day!!

If you don’t know Pat, do you have a friend, a family member or a colleague who has taught you a life lesson or two? 

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. GREG FORSTER says:


    This is a beautiful tribute written to show the impact that one person can indeed have on the lives of so many others, both individually and in communion with others in striving for a goal that is important to all of us in the O’Connor community. I especially agree with your description of her drive in reaching out with education to those around us from different backgrounds so that they will have better knowledge, better respect, for the good works that are accomplished here. Pat is a most accomplished individual, and, I am most sure that we are all eagerly awaiting to hear about her next project, her next goal.

    Did you mention her “transitioning”? Pat Kolstad? Certainly not to “retirement”. That’s way too far in the distance for her….she’s just moving on to her next great adventure.

    And, Pat, you’d BETTER tell us all about it as it unfolds, because, after all, we too want to keep being educated about life and all that it has to offer.

    Good Luck and Godspeed,

    Greg Forster

    • Hi Greg –

      We are blessed to have Pat in our lives. She has spent countless hours helping our company & community with educational resources. Drive has been one of Pat’s many great qualities, she has overcome so many obstacles, her mantra has been Persistences wears down resistances. Greg I am grateful to be in your life as well. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  2. Shayna Mallik says:

    Thank you so much for your blog. Pat is an amazing person and I look up to her dearly. I know how much she means to this company. The connection she has made in the community is such an accomplishment. She is definitely part of my family and I treasure her dearly. Thank you for sharing yours and Pats friendship.
    Also thank you for the opportunity to work with such amazing people. I love what I do and cherish every moment here at work. The relationships I have made with my coworkers is more than just people I work with but all of them are part of my family and I enjoy each day with them serving our families.
    Thank you again!!


    • Hi Shayna –

      I love it! You get it, you understand that we can be more than just co-workers. We can become really good friends at work, when we allow our selves to be open and honest with each other. We can deepen our lives by deepening our relationships with the folks who we spend a majority of or time with. As you know we spend more time with our teammates than we spend with our families. Thank you for your leadership! I hope you have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful for our friendship.

  3. Diane Kopylow says:

    What an incredibly kind and loving way to express appreciation and gratitude to a woman we all admire and love because of who she is and what she does for others. You are fortunate to have spent so many years with Pat. I think everyone would agree she is a gem. What I loved, also, is reading what others have added about Pat, just more proof that she is loved by many for the same reasons we all see so clearly.

    • Hi Diane –

      Thank you for your comments about Pat. You are so right she is a gem, I have been so blessed to be her life for 20 years. I hope you have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. Lisa O’Connor says:

    As your wife I find it endearing that Pat is sometimes referred to as your “work wife”. She is an amazing woman! I am thankful that she is in our lives and I love that our son has come to know her as Grammy Pat.

  5. Patty Whack!

    Wow! What a journey it has been and will continue to be. One classic scenario that comes to mind is when Pat was basically a direct report of both Neil and I (The poor woman) We were all still cutting our teeth as executives and far from the fine well oiled machines we are today. (At least I would like to think so.) Poor Pat was like a ping pong ball. I would tell her one thing and Neil would tell her another and I’m sure her head was spinning. Neil and I would meet for our one on one and both of us would have a list of issues that Pat brought to each of us about each of us. Dysfunction is so fun to look back on. Of course the dreaded bench comes to mind. When ever a team member was called out to the bench they knew something was up, good, bad or indifferent something was up. Pat spent some quality time on that bench! I will let you decide what percentage of good, bad and indifferent she enjoyed. We have shared love, laughter, tears and fears with each other for over 20 years, I cherish each moment. Here is looking at you kid…

    love always,


    Besides s laughter tears

    • Hi Chuck –

      No you didn’t just go there! Classic only you could make me flashback with the tears of pain and tears of laughter. “The Bench” ouch! It just goes to show you, what does not kill you can make you stronger. Poor Pat, she has a place in heaven for having to work with me, you had the easy job, the “Nice Cop”. Well, this journey has come full circle and here we go again, another day of creating meaningful and deep relationship. I am thankful for our friendship and your support, I could not do it without you, and I would not want to do it with out you either. You have been one of my biggest supporters and I truly grateful for YOU Charles! Happy Thanksgiving!

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