Patsy O'Neal Morrow, who worked as hard to raise money for cancer research as she fought so bravely to defeat the disease that struck her five times, died in her Key West home Wednesday morning, June 18, 2014.
Mrs. Morrow celebrated 79 birthdays, the last 15 as she battled cancer. Despite her constant pain, she also had a constant smile as she inspired others with the same disease or other ailments. In the last two years of her life, she served as Unit Chair for the Florida Keys chapter of the American Cancer Society, serving under the woman who became a great friend, Director Carrie Helliesen. Before that, Mrs. Morrow held the positions of sponsorship chair, survivors/caregivers chair, advocacy chair, publicity chair and volunteer leadership council chair as well as being team captain at numerous Relays For Life in Key West.
Along the way, the American Cancer Society honored her for her passion for curing cancer with numerous awards, including Volunteer of the Year, the Courage Award, ACS Volunteer Leadership Area Ambassador for the Florida Division and its Community Foundation Unsung Hero of the Year Award.
Sixteen years ago when she and her husband, Ralph, were living in Naples, Fla., Patsy first learned she had colon cancer and immediately had surgery and underwent chemotherapy treatments. Then, a year later, it was non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and radiation treatments. Soon, in 2000, the cancer had metastasized to her liver and she had surgery that reduced her liver by a third. Of course, cancer was not finished with her, but neither was she finished with cancer. Again, it attacked her liver and she underwent two sessions of hepatic arterial embilazations at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Soon, as she said, the cancer carcenoids were dancing again in her liver. Through it all, she continued her faith in God and her faith in life with a smile.
Mrs. Morrow was married three times. The first, in 1955 to Howard Winfield, produced sons Christopher and Scott. After she married Robert O'Neal in 1964, she gave birth to Rob, Peter and John.
When she married Ralph almost 36 years ago, she added being a mother to Lisa Dunn, Molly Morrow McMahon and the late Josh Morrow.
Besides Ralph, the managing editor of Konk Life in Key West, and her children, she leaves her brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Phyllis Risner; daughters-in-law Sheila Winfield, Idania Rodriguez O'Neal and Jessi O'Neal, sons-in-law Bruce Dunn and J.D. McMahon, 14 grandchildren Sarah, Amanda, Ryan (Shannan), Savannah, Noah, Phillip, Ashley, Chelsea, Cassi, Jack, Trent, Austin, Chris and Ian and six great-grandchildren, Lyndsi, Zoey, Tessa, Gavin, Cam and Isaac.
Mrs. Morrow was born Patsy Gene Risner in Dayton, Ohio, April 24, 1935, to Herman and Margaret Risner. On her way to graduating from Trotwood-Madison High School, she also developed a talent in singing, dancing and acting. Those attributes would all prove instrumental as she produced annual English Music Hall shows starring the St. George Players at St. George's Episcopal Church in Kettering, Ohio. She served as Senior Warden at St. Stephens Episcopal in Birmingham, Mich., as well as Junior Warden at St. Andrew's Episcopal in Dayton, Ohio.
In Key West, where she and her husband moved 20 years ago, she attended St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Mrs. Morrow studied German at Wright State University near Dayton.
In her professional career, she served as administrative assistant to industry leaders in Birmingham, Mich., and Dayton, Ohio, as well as at numerous Real Estate agencies in Key West and Naples. She once was executive secretary of the Key West Association of Realtors.
There were many doctors and surgeons who cared for her, including Dr. Dan Schulteis, in Dayton; Dr. Doug Heldreth, Dr. Ray Phillips and Dr. Howard Burdoges in Naples; Dr. Jonathan Strosberg and Dr. Richard Karl in Tampa; Dr. Kalman Blumberg in Miami and Dr. Jack Norris, Dr. Rhoda Smith, Dr. Taweh Beysolow, Dr. Raul Caner and Dr. Sid Venkatappa in Key West.
Many nurses and CNAs also assisted her, including nurse Rita Malinowski, nurse and crucial family friend Stacey Mitchell, CNA Cyra Boose, CNA Pamela Zakariadze, Betty Radics and numerous others with Hospice, Lower Keys Medical Center and the Key West Health and Rehabilitation Center.
It is suggested that those who wish to honor her life do so by making a contribution to a Key West Relay For Life team or the American Cancer Society, 1010 Kennedy Drive., Key West, FL 33040.
A celebration of Mrs. Morrow's Life will be conducted by the Rev. Larry Hooper at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 21, 2014 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Key West, 401 Duval St. Her ashes will be distributed at sea at the convenience of her family.