Patricia Ann Rafuse
12/09/1938 - 4/3/2020
HYANNIS - Patricia Ann Rafuse (née Wahl) passed away peacefully April 3, 2020. She is sorely missed by her loving children Jonathan, Heather, and Amanda; her grandchildren Abby and Sam Higgins, and Melia and Caleb Rafuse; her son in-law Peter Higgins and daughter-in-law Leticia Palos-Rafuse; her sister-in-law Franny Macdonald and Franny’s three children Jennifer, Sean, and Jackie; and her niece Kris Wahl; her many close friends from throughout her life.
Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, on December 09, 1938, to Oswald and Anna Rita (Murphy) Wahl, Patty excelled at athletics (field hockey, tennis, cheerleading), music, academics, and creating long-lasting and loyal friendships. Patty’s father Oswald Edward Wahl died at age 27 when Patty was just three years old and she and her brother Richard were raised by their mother Anna and their Aunts Louise and Helen. These women raised Patty to be the smart, hard-working, independent, funny, adventurous, courageous, and loyal person we all loved. Patty was predeceased by her parents and aunts, by her brother Dick and his wife Kay and their son Rich.
Inspired by her Aunt Helen, a career teacher and school principal, Patty graduated from Paterson State College in New Jersey with a degree in education. Her love and talent for elementary school education parlayed itself into a long career: she taught in Orange, N.J., Dedham, Palos Verdes, Calif. and was a Founding Teacher at the renowned Capitol Hill Day School in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of students around the country were impacted by Patty’s dedicated passion for learning.
Patty joins her beloved husband of 56 years, Jack, who passed away in October 2019. Patty and Jack met, married and spent summers their entire married lives on Cape Cod. Following Jack’s career in government and as an energy policy expert, they lived, worked, and raised their family in Massachusetts, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and in Palos Verdes, California. In 1993 they returned to the DC area and lived in Old Town Alexandria, Va. No matter where their lives led them, they always returned to Cape Cod for summers. Patty was Jack’s beloved “Beauty” -- a nickname that passed on to their grandchildren. Their devotion to one another continues to inspire all who knew them.
Family came first for Patty. She and Jack encouraged their children to follow their distinct paths. Eldest son Jonathan graduated from UCLA, has an MA from Antioch University, and works with his wife Lety for Autism Partnership in Los Angeles, California; Melia and Caleb are their smart, talented, joyful children. Heather graduated from the University of Colorado. She and her husband Pete, married 20 years and living in Chatham, are entrepreneurs/home-builders whose children Abby and Sam are smart, giving, and athletic. Amanda graduated from Notre Dame and holds an MFA from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. She is a theater-maker and consultant for social-profit organizations. These hard-working, loving, smart, friendly people inspire family and friends. They all miss her compassionate, fierce, and funny presence immensely.
True to her nickname Beauty, Patty had a talent for bringing touches of graciousness into the world -- she had a song for every occasion, a way of making spaces beautiful, and a gift for making everyone feel welcome and special. Her faith and Catholicism were guiding lights throughout her life; Patty was a devoted member of St. Mary Basilica (Alexandria, Va.), and Holy Redeemer (Chatham).
A memorial service will be held when possible on Cape Cod. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests tributes and donations to the Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation. Cards and memories are welcome and appreciated. For online condolences, please visit
God loves you, Beauty. And so do we.
Patricia Ann Rafuse