Patricia Josephine (McHugh) Branstetter | Passages

Patricia Josephine (McHugh) Branstetter   - Submitted photo
Patricia Josephine (McHugh) Branstetter
— image credit: Submitted photo

Patricia Josephine (McHugh) Branstetter died at home in Friday Harbor on Sept. 8, 2009, surrounded by the love of her four children.

She was 88.

Patricia, known to her family and close friends as Tricia, was born in Seattle on Aug. 31, 1921. Her parents were Frank and Marion (Manca) McHugh.

Patricia’s grandfather, Patrick McHugh, owned the P.J. McHugh Paving and Construction Co. and was selected to construct the first paved section of Snoqualmie Pass. He also paved many of the city’s earliest streets, including a portion of the Denny Hill re-grade, Montlake Boulevard and Madison Avenue. Her father continued in the family business, completing the paving of Snoqualmie Pass in the middle of the 1930s.

Her mother was the daughter of restaurateur Victor Manca, who owned the Seattle landmark Manca’s Café, which operated in the city’s business district from 1898 until the late 1950s.

Patricia attended the University of Washington and was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority. During World War II, she met the great love of her life, Richard “Dick” Branstetter, also of Seattle, and married him in 1944. Together they had four children and numerous dogs. She was a dedicated wife and mother and took great pride in her work as a homemaker.

Tricia loved life and lived it with spirited vigor, a sense of adventure and elegance. She was an avid bridge player, a master gardener, a dedicated volunteer, an expert crossword puzzler (Sunday New York Times), a true movie buff, a music lover, a voracious reader and a fabulous cook. She possessed a sharp, inquisitive mind and was commonly heard to say, “Let’s look it up” if an answer to a question was not readily available.

She was forthright in her opinions and truly curious about the opinions and ideas of others. She was a unique individual, possessed of style, taste and a surprisingly earthy sense of humor. Her favorite toast, coined in the last months of her life, was a hearty, “Carry on!”

She is survived by her sister, Sharon Knowles; her children, Michael Branstetter, Marion Melville (Doug Bison), Chuck (Julie) Branstetter and Manca (Kjell) Valum; nine grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her siblings, Frank McHugh, Helen Olcott, Jane McHugh, Patrick McHugh; and her husband.

A celebration of her life will be held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 17, 2009 at the San Juan Island Yacht Club. Lunch will be served and memories shared. Memorials may be made to Skagit Hospice and Hospice San Juan.

You may share your thoughts and memories in the online guest book for Patricia at

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