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Memorials: Albuquerque Friends Meeting

Patricia Lou Kutzner

Date of birth

Jan. 27, 1930

Date of death

Dec. 8, 2015


Albuquerque Friends Meeting

Memorial minute

Patricia Lou (“Pat”) Kutzner passed away on December 8, 2015. She was 85 years old. She was born January 27, 1930 in Billings, Montana to Clyde Mondelle Kutzner (d. 1939) and Nelle B. Pearson (d. 1962).  She was predeceased by her sister Marjorie Ellen Kutzner (d. 2002) and Donald Frederick Kutzner (d. 1996). She is survived by two second cousins, Cindie Selboe(Salt Lake City, UT)  and Patricia Vasconcellos (Longmont, CO).

Pat’s life incorporated deep commitments to scholarship, service and the life of the Spirit.  After high school, she entered University of California Berkley where she earned a BA in History with honors (1952) and a secondary education credential (1953). After spending a year in Bad Godesberg, Germany (1957-58), she went on to Stanford University where she earned an MA in German Studies in 1962 and a Ph.D. in German Studies in 1972.

During this time, however, Pat was clearly feeling the pull of service and Spirit. In the midst of her studies and her employment as a high school teacher and a university instructor, Pat became affiliated with the Bridge Mountain Foundation in Ben Lomond, CA. Bridge Mountain, anticipating today’s explorations of Mindfulness practice in everyday life, grew into an “educational community” where members sought to learn deep relaxation” to help people explore “more meaningful ways of expressing themselves and of relating as human beings.”  In time, several local school districts began to use Bridge Mountain’s program for teaching relaxation. Pat served as acting director at Bridge Mountain from 1960 – 1963, while also serving as manager of the Santa Clara Symphony Orchestra (she was an amateur violinist).

It was in California that Pat established formal membership in the Religious Society of Friends through San Francisco Monthly Meeting. It was also during this period (1960s) that Pat’s long association began with the Blue Mountain Meditation Center, founded by Eknath Easwaran. Indeed, Pat returned to Blue Mountain for deep retreats almost every year and followed the meditation practices she had learned there on a daily basis.  One of her last travels before she was felled by illness was to the Blue Mountain Meditation Center in the Fall of 2015 for an in-depth spiritual retreat.

Scholarship, Service, Spirit – these three threads continued to weave the pattern of Patricia Kutzner’s life.  A California friend recalls that while Pat was teaching German at Lone Mountain College in San Francisco in the early 1970s, she “was asked to go to Germany for a couple of years to … put some …German books into English.” Pat asked her friend Rosalie to take care of her cat while she was gone. However, in the end, she did not go to Germany.  Rather, she began a new direction of service in her life, moving to New York City to work on development education with the NYC National Program of the Episcopal and United Methodist Churches. When Pat revisited Rosalie and reclaimed her cat a couple of years later, she had moved to Washington, DC where she became the founding Director of the World Hunger Education Service and, although a Quaker, represented the Episcopal Hunger Network as liaison to the Interreligious Taskforce on U.S. Food Policy.

For the next 20 years, the commitment to end world hunger consumed Pat Kutzner’s professional life.  She was the founding director of the World Hunger Education Service (1976) and the founding editor of Hunger Notes (1975) a bimonthly newsletter covering hunger and food policy.  She co-founded the U.S. Committee for World Food Day and the District of Columbia Hunger Action Project (1985).

Pat transferred her Quaker membership to the Friends Meeting of Washington, D.C., a monthly meeting of Baltimore Yearly Meeting and engaged actively with the life of her monthly and yearly meetings, throughout her residence in Washington, DC, and afterwards, when she moved to New Mexico.  As at every stage of her journey of Spirit and service, Pat Kutzner integrated her religious life and her professional life while addressing hunger and poverty. The World Hunger Education Service, found a home in a corner of the third floor of the Friends Committee on National Legislation offices, where Quakers Sam and Miriam Levering were working to develop and promote the Law of the Sea Treaty.  Pat answered their phone and took messages in return for free rent of a desk where she could put her typewriter and a corner to store the files of the World Hunger Education Service. As a member of Friends Meeting of Washington, Pat participated in the establishment of the Meeting’s Hunger and Homelessness Task Force.

In 1979, Pat was named “NGO Liaison” on the U.S. delegation, led by Ambassador Andrew Young, to the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development held in Rome. The next year (1980) she was sent by the Office of Women in Development in USAID to the Mid-Decade for Women Conference in Copenhagen. In 1985, it was the Quaker organization, Friends World Committee for Consultation, which drew upon Pat’s skills and commitment, appointing her to the FWCC international delegation of observers at the Nairobi conference ending the UN Decade for Women. Out of this last event came a special issue of Hunger Notes, devoted to “Women Farmers of Kenya.” Pat’s rented home, first in DC and then in Tacoma Park, became a bed and breakfast way station for traveling Friends who wanted a more personal place to nest when they traveled to the nation’s capital.

By the mid-1990s, Pat was talking “retirement” to her friends in the world hunger movement in DC.  After traveling to New Mexico to participate in the FWCC Triennial Conference at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, she took some time to walkabout and found her way to the Navajo Nation.  She stopped at the Torreon/Star Lake Chapter, to ask directions and use the restroom and became engaged in an energetic dialogue with community members and Chapter representatives about local concerns.  Learning that the Chapter was looking for a way to hire a grant writer to build resources for community development, Pat offered to help out.

Returning to her home in Tacoma Park, Pat immediately convened a Clearness Committee to help her decide her next course of action.  As a result, she became a Released Friend under the care of Baltimore Yearly Meeting and returned to New Mexico, ultimately settling in Cuba, NM, the market town located 26 miles from Torreon/Star Lake Chapter.

This began Pat’s 20-year association with Torreon/Star Lake Chapter and with the Navajo people of Eastern Navajo Agency.  She taught adult education classes through the Crownpoint Institute of Technology (now Navajo Technical University). She assisted in the establishment of a community organization which evolved into a NM chartered non-profit corporation to house community development efforts initiated by Torreon community members. Pat served as the first Executive Director of the Torreon Community Alliance, under the oversight of the TCA Board of Directors, all residents of the community and members of the Navajo Nation. With Pat’s assistance, the Torreon Community Alliance established the Torreon Community Store, a site for purchase of donated household goods, and for building experience in retail management. TCA also established the Torreon Arts and Crafts Fair, now an annual event. Using grant funds obtained by the Alliance, the Torreon Community engaged in watershed restoration work to protect the fragile community ecosystem. These efforts, guided by the grassroots Torreon Community Alliance, continue today.

Pat facilitated exchanges and inter-visitation between members of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends and Torreon/Star Lake Chapter.  BYM youth traveled to Torreon to share in community development projects and Torreon youth traveled to Washington, DC and the surrounding region to learn firsthand about advocacy in the US Capital and to exchange experiences with young people in the Capital area.

As Pat’s period of “Release” from Baltimore Yearly Meeting came to an end, she moved her membership to Albuquerque Monthly Meeting and developed a national supportive “Circle of Friends” who helped maintain her during her continued service to the Torreon Community and supported the Alliance directly as well.  With help from a friend, she purchase a house near Cuba where she could garden, care for assorted cats and dogs and raise a couple of pet sheep.  When not traveling to Albuquerque for worship, she attended the Presbyterian Church in Cuba.  Church members and Cuba residents recount seeing Pat walk through town on her way to church, followed by her sheep and two loyal dogs. In the end, she returned, at least in part, to the rural life she had loved as a child growing up in Montana.

In living and in dying, Pat Kutzner’s life exemplified the path of enlightenment through selfless service, as laid out more than 2000 years ago in the Bhagavad Gita, the great Hindu scripture. As translated by Eknath Easwaran, the founder of the Blue Mountain Meditation Center, and Pat’s teacher, the Divine Presence, speaking  in the Gita promises

Whatever I am offered in devotion and with a pure heart … I accept with pure joy. Whatever you do, make it an offering to me – the food you eat, the sacrifices you make, the help you give, even your suffering. …Then, firm in renunciation and yoga, with your heart free, you will come to me.