Friends and family remember deceased public safety worker

Kat Dodson, Staff Writer

On Monday, Oct. 24, Wilkes Public Safety staff member Marybeth Patterson died of cancer at the age of 51. Although her passing has caused them grief, those who knew Marybeth take joy in remembering her as she was—a beloved family member, friend and employee.
Friends and family described Marybeth as an active woman who liked to keep busy.  She enjoyed sports, dancing and music and was a creative woman who loved craft-making, such as woodcraft, stenciling and painting.  She enjoyed bowling, belonged to leagues and, for several years, ran a youth bowling group called Colonial Lanes.  She was a charitable woman who consistently participated in Relay for Life.  Those who knew her best said she was kind, easygoing and sincere.
“Marybeth was a family woman,” Jerry Rebo, manager of Public Safety, said of his close friend and co-worker. Cindy Hennan, one of Marybeth’s three sisters, added that she was always there for her children.
“At the viewing, even the boys’ friends were approaching me, telling me how much they loved her,” Cindy said.
Marybeth was especially devoted to her ailing father, who, Rebo said, she affectionately nicknamed ‘Daddy-O.’
“In spite of how sick she was, she continued to take care of him,” Hennan said.
‘Daddy-O,’ 85, passed away in the evening the same day as his little girl did.
“Everyone liked her,” said Rebo, adding that “all of the girls in the office got along very well with her” and that Marybeth had friends in all departments. Rebo and Zakk Patterson, Marybeth’s son, noted that the friendships Marybeth made over the years were close and long-lasting.
Rebo added, “Once you’re a friend of Marybeth, you’re a friend for life.”
Marybeth was a dedicated worker as well.  As an employee, Rebo said, she was “very valuable, very responsible.  She was in charge of my parking.  She developed new plans for payment and took care of all the parking tickets.  She was very good at what she did.  It runs smoothly now because of Marybeth.”
Hennan said that, throughout her struggle, Marybeth’s friends and co-workers at Wilkes meant a lot to her.
“My sister loved Wilkes University, and everyone she worked with there was so terrific toward her in her time of need. They were very understanding.  Wilkes was her second family.”
Rebo said Marybeth’s long battle began five years prior with breast cancer, which went into remission and returned about a year and a half ago, when it began to metastasize and affect her liver, bones and stomach.  Chemotherapy was rough and insurance could not always cover her treatment, Hennan remarked.  But friends and family agree that Marybeth fought valiantly, and they highly respect her for it.
Hennan said, “She was very kind, very welcoming, always had a smile on her face.  Even through all the bad news that she had to deal with, she accepted it and always saw hope, never gave up.”
“She always wanted to feel like she was helpful.  Even in the last few months, all she wanted to do was keep busy, help people, do what she could,” Zakk added.
Gayle Patterson, Marybeth’s sister-in-law who works in the Human Resources Department, said she admires her relative for the way she pushed herself to come in to work.
“She fought hard,” Gayle said. “She was very courageous.  She would be so sick, but she would come in to work.  I mean, that’s what kept her going.”
“She was sick, but she was still active,” Rebo said, adding that even when she was no longer working, she still drove to Wilkes-Barre to visit friends and co-workers.  “As a matter of fact, she was here about a week and a half, maybe two weeks before she died.  She went out with the girls.  They had a good time.”
Rebo said that was the last time he saw her, hospital visits excluded.  On Tuesday, Nov. 19, she was admitted to the hospital after a blood test.  She died the following Monday.
“She would have had her birthday next month,” Rebo said.
Marybeth’s friends and family cherish the happy memories they shared with her, such as the benefit they held for her at her home in Hunlock Creek. Cindy, Zakk and Gayle say that, in spite of her illness, Marybeth was the life of the party as usual.
“Marybeth really enjoyed laughing and having a good time, and she wanted people around her to have a good time,” Hennan remarked.  She wanted this because she cared.
“That’s the kind of woman she was,” said Rebo.  “She cared.  She cared about a lot of people.”