January 12, 1923 - September 29, 2021
"You just do what you have to do." That's the resolve that guided Patty Lee Bonifazi through her 98 years of life, which ended all too soon for her family Wednesday, September 29. The last of the "Greatest Generation" who grew up through the Great Depression, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, civil rights, and the COVID pandemic, Patty lived her life with an inner fortitude and strength that defined so many of her generation. Storyteller, watercolor artist, gourmet cook, ballroom dancer, gardener, avid reader, and lover of family gatherings, Patty grew up in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, daughter of Eula Victoria and Arthur Hugh Shurley, born January 12, 1923. Always the prettiest girl in the room, she went from being Sallisaw's Homecoming Queen to Miss Tinker Field where she worked as a clerk during the War and met her future husband, Art Bonifazi from Dubuque, Iowa. Art was opera, Patty was the blues; he was Italian, she was Irish, and the two had a 74-year love affair marriage that could have been a Hollywood movie. Vowing to wait for him until after the War, she wrote him every day, amassing hundreds of letters. She took great pride in boasting that she saved his life, for after reading one of her letters, he left the building he was leaning against to rejoin his squad, only to see that building bombed moments later. She says it was the shortest letter she ever wrote him. She told stories the way an artist uses a brush, with bold strokes from a colorful pallet of personal experiences chiseled through a depression-era childhood and WWII years of sacrifice for a common good. From that and their years as founding members of the Church of Saint Mary and the Church of the Resurrection, she and Art formed a circle of friends that lasted a lifetime. She outlived them all. There was always room for an extra chair at their table, where you'd be treated to an evening of good food, laughter, and stories. Even at 98, she looked with anticipation to the coming day. Bingo games, cooking classes, story times, visitations, and therapy sessions at Saint Simeon's, her loving home for the last three years of her life, had her dance card full each day. Even in the last few days of her life in the hospital she was determined to get back to Saint Simeon's because, "I need to get home. My friends will be so worried about me." Patty was preceded in death by her husband of 74 years, Arthur William Bonifazi; their son John and daughter Carolyn; son-in-law Herb Fritz; and her sister, Denny Hladky. She is survived by daughters Barbara and husband, Joe Williams of Bartlesville, Debbi Fritz of Ft. Collins, and Mary Bonifazi of Tulsa, sons David and Andrew of Tulsa, 11 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, and her brothers Arthur Hugh, JW "Dubby," and Jim Shurley. Graveside service for family and friends will be held Monday, October 4 at 11:00 a.m. at Calvary Cemetery. Masks and social distancing are required. Gratitude painted her final days knowing that her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren she loved so much were by her side at the end. As Mr. Carson of Downton Abbey said, "The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end, that's all there is." Patty left her family with memories of a life filled with love and kindness, family and community, of a mother who, up to the very end, was the keeper of the thread that bound us all together. We never thought she would be gone.
"You just do what you have to do." That's the resolve that guided Patty Lee Bonifazi through her 98 years of life, which ended all too soon for her family Wednesday, September 29. The last of the "Greatest Generation" who grew up through the... View Obituary & Service Information
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"You just do what you have to do."
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