Patricia "Patty" Kaiser, a beloved Merritt Island substitute teacher and inspiration to many, died at home on November 12, 2012 after a difficult battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 63.
Patty was born in Whitehall, Wisconsin to Jim and Alberta Zecherle on November 5, 1949, and grew up with her two younger brothers in the northern Wisconsin town of Eau Claire. After starting college at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, Patty transferred to the University of Oklahoma where she finished her undergraduate degree before returning to her home state to work as a special education teacher. Upon completing her master's degree in vocational rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin at Stout, Patty shifted to a career with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, helping parolees find meaningful work.
Patty's commitment to developing jobs throughout Wisconsin led to her meeting Pete Kaiser, a Milwaukee businessman with a similar interest in workforce development. After a brief courtship, they married on November 18, 1995 and settled in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield, bringing together a family of Patty's daughter, Kimberly Schrage, now a physician in California, and Pete's two sons, Jacob and Joseph Kaiser, who now live in North Carolina.
Patty's career continued to rise, culminating with her selection as president of the Wisconsin Employment and Training Association. She became an active member of the Milwaukee community as well, serving as president of HealthCare for the Homeless. At home she developed a deep passion for the family's pets – champion bearded collies – and delighted in the family's summers spent on the water in the idyllic town of Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Both would remain central to Patty's life after the family moved to Merritt Island in September 2002.
In Merritt Island Patty rediscovered her joy for teaching, this time as a substitute teacher for several schools throughout Brevard County. It was at Merritt Island High School, however, that Patty made her most lasting impact, endearing herself to countless students with her optimistic outlook, compassionate nature, and enthusiasm for education and for life. These characteristics were reflected in her broader activities in the community as well, where Patty volunteered at a local hospital, served on the Merritt Island Library Board, and joined congregations with Pete at Horizon Point Church in Rockledge and First Christian Church of Merritt Island.
The move to Merritt Island also allowed Patty to pursue her lifelong interest in flowers and plants year-round. She could often be found smiling and singing while gardening at her home.
Patty also enjoyed: candy, exercise, shopping, and spending time with friends and family; travel, cruising, sunbathing, and visits to the seashore; music, laughter, reading, and bible study; sunrises, Sykes Creek, Three Lakes, and all God's creation.
She was a voice for the voiceless. She loved her friends and family. She loved God. And we loved her.
Patty leaves behind many other family and friends who will truly miss her, and wanted to thank all of the people who so graciously and generously supported her through their visits, notes, thoughts, and prayers. The family will celebrate her life with a gathering at her home at 2:30pm on November 18, 2012. The funeral will be held in July 2013 in Three Lakes, Wisconsin. In lieu of flowers, Patty asked that donations be made in her memory to the Central Brevard Humane Society, 1020 Cox Road, Cocoa, FL 32909.
Condolences may be shared at www.wyliebaxleymerrittisland.com