Patty Strain of Montclair, NJ left a big hole in our hearts this week when she passed away from her two-year battle with brain cancer. She leaves behind her husband Jon Strain and their three adult sons, Jack (25), Joe (21) and Rob (21). She was a fantastic mother, wife and active volunteer in the town of Montclair for the Human Needs Food Pantry, Montclair Kimberly Academy and any charity her friends cared about.
Patty was often seen walking the streets of Montclair waving to her many old friends and all the new friends she had yet to meet. She was known for her positive spirit, her generous heart and a desire to see people at their best. She had the special ability to make everyone feel like they were the most important person in the room when she listened to them. She loved people and always wanted to know ‘how is your day?” She was relentlessly positive and polite and coached her boys to act with humility and kindness. Her friends and family often quoted the playful banter that became her daily mantras. “All good”, “No worries”, “Play your game”, and ““I’m so blessed” will be remembered as lessons in how to live a happy life.
She will always be associated with the little red boxes that she lovingly packed with her homemade English toffee. Tied with white satin ribbons, this toffee was our family’s signature Christmas gift and was widely sought after. Patty would stay up late into the winter night to cook and pack enough boxes to gift her family’s roster of VIPs: teachers, coaches, administrators, contractors, business colleagues, clients and the many friends who needed some love. The family often had to pitch in to meet peak demand as she kept the recipe a family secret. She loved the act of giving and her toffee was a symbol of her generous heart.
Patty was a big sports fan. She loved that her Cubs finally won a World Series. She often wore a school logo fleece carrying her telephoto lens camera in the stands snapping photos of her teams. She was an amazing supporter of Montclair, Bates and Gettysburg players of any sex or sport and taught her sons to respect the players of all teams whether competing versus a crosstown rival or JV practice squad. She loved competitive swimming and had all of her boys in Bradford Bath and Tennis speedos as soon as they could swim a lap. She played tennis on the BB&T team and her partners appreciated her strong left hand volley and focus on “just this point”. She was a great competitor but never a poor loser.
Before moving to NJ, Patty was proud of her work selling the first laptop computers to automate sales forces for Grid Systems in Chicago. She loved the fun, young people she worked with there and was named Top Salesperson in the company as a 26 year old. Of course, she loved her customers as people, gave them great service and charmed them with red boxes of toffee for Christmas. She met her husband, Jon, in the elevator leaving work with her colleague. They were married 8 months later.
She was from Chicago and never got used to telling people she lived in NJ even after 25 years. The Midwest holds a special place in her heart and she loved expounding on the merits of the Chicago lakefront and its grid street system. She attended Illinois State University and Regina Dominican High School. She was born Patricia Jean Brennan in Evanston, Illinois to Al and Mary Francis Brennan and is survived by 3 brothers, Al Brennan Jr, Bill Brennan and Jim Brennan, and 2 sisters, Anne Brennan and Mary Beth Luhrsen, and 15 nieces and nephews all of whom live in the Midwest.
A wake will be held at Moriarty Funeral Home at 76 Park St Montclair NJ 07042 on Friday October 12 from 1-4 pm and 6-8pm.
A funeral mass celebrating her life will be held Saturday October 13, at 10 am at Immaculate Conception Church 30 North Fullerton Ave, Montclair NJ 07042
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you donate to the Human Needs Food Pantry of Montclair NJ where Patty volunteered for over 20 years.