Pat Cohill, of Hancock, died January 3, 2013 at her home, surrounded by her family.
Frances Patricia Fenton (Pat) was born February 22, 1929 in Boston, MA, the daughter of the late Francis Patrick Fenton (Frank) and Christine Tucker Fenton. She was the widow of William J. Cohill, who died in 1994.
Pat Cohill raised 5 children and created a new home and circle of friends every few years in a new location following her husband's job. The family eventually settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1960. A graduate of the University of Maryland, she worked as a school teacher, a farmer and a homemaker.
Pat Cohill made it her mission to save the family farm. Few are aware of Pat’s vital contributions to the cause. While firm and adept at arguing her point of view in public forums, Pat was modest, helpful and an instigator of fun in her neighborhood. Pat was a leader among farmers' wives and helped to form Women for the Survival of Agriculture in Michigan. In one episode, farmer's wives donned white gloves and stood between the packing house and the farmers' wagons to stop commerce until the processors agreed to pay the farmers enough to cover the cost of their work, fertilizers and
Pat Fenton Cohill, mirroring her parents' efforts during the 1920s and 1930s to secure a living wage for workers and the vote for women, became a leader in the mission to give small farmers more power relative to agri-business. Extending beyond Michigan, her leadership across the country led to the establishment of Women for the Survival of Agriculture in California, in Oregon and in many other states. She was asked to testify about farming conditions before a Congressional Committee in Washington, D.C. and had meetings and received calls from the White House when President Gerry Ford (also of Grand Rapids) was seeking unadorned grassroots information.
Eventually, the state groups combined to establish American Agri-Women. Pat wrote the mission statement for the AAW. A member of National Press Women, she contributed regularly to agricultural newspapers and stayed in close contact with university agricultural specialists.
Pat survived the automobile accident that took her husband Bill's life. She returned to Hancock to a log home built by her eldest daughter Theresa and her husband Bill Van Der Bos. Before long, she was working with others to arrange memorabilia so that the Hancock Museum could reopen. Pat was a charter and Board member of the Hancock Historical Society. Wherever she lived, Pat sought to make her surroundings a better place for everyone.
Bedridden since suffering a stroke, Pat has been cared for by her eldest daughter Theresa for the past two years, with assistance from the Hospice of Washington County. She leaves a wealth of grieving friends and relatives.
She is survived by two daughters: Theresa Van Der Bos of Hancock, MD and Elizabeth Cohill of Henderson, CO; two sons : John Cohill of Hancock, MD and William Cohill of Sonoma County, CA; one sister, Anne Herdt of Accomac, VA and two brothers: John Fenton in Potomac, MD and Gerald Fenton in Churchton, MD. Her grandchildren: D.J. Jason Van Der Bos and his children Joseph and Jessica; John Cohill II and his children John, Austin, and Nina . She was preceded in death by her son Joseph and her sister, Helene Fenton Willoughby.
A Mass of Resurrection will be held at 1:00 on Saturday January 12 at St. Peter’s Church, 16 East High St. Hancock, MD.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Hospice of Washington County, 747 Northern Ave, Hancock, MD.
Arrangements were handled by the Grove Funeral Home, Hancock, MD.
On-line condolences will be accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org