Viola E. “Pat” Kilbourn

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Viola E. “Pat” Kilbourn, a beacon of kindness and wisdom, passed away peacefully on March 27, 2024, at the age of 94, at the Porches of Gaylord, Michigan surrounded by her family. Pat was born on July 25, 1929, in Holly, Michigan, and was the cherished daughter of the late Carl Edison Tolles and the late Dorothy Helen (nee: Secord) Tolles. Pat’s warmth and love touched the lives of all who knew her, leaving behind a legacy of compassion and strength.  Pat never met a stranger in her life once she engaged a new person they became a friend forever.

Pat’s early years were spent in the town of Clio, Michigan, where she developed a foundation of resilience and joy. She carried these traits with her as she ventured into the world, graduating from Clio High School in 1946. After completing her education, the Tolles family relocated to Gaylord, Michigan.  It was after moving to Gaylord that fate would bring together Pat and her future husband, Robert.  The two met while attending a community dance at the local VFW Hall.  Soon after the romance began and culminating with their marriage June 22, 1948.

Pat’s educational journey laid the groundwork for what was to become a diverse and fulfilling career path that would impact many.  Pat embarked on a career that was as varied as it was impactful. She began as a candy striper at Otsego Memorial Hospital in Gaylord, where her caring nature was evident in every task she undertook. Pat’s entrepreneurial spirit shone brightly as she became a successful Tupperware saleswoman, demonstrating her remarkable ability to connect with people and her innate business acumen.  Pat was so gifted at engaging and selling Tupperware that she earned a company car and won many annual trips to Florida for outstanding sales.

Pat’s dedication to her community was further exemplified through her service as the Otsego County Deputy Clerk, a role in which she served with distinction and grace. She concluded her professional journey as a salesclerk and pharmacy technician for Nelson’s Drug Store, until her retirement. Pat’s work ethic and commitment to service were hallmarks of her character.

Beyond her professional achievements, Pat was a woman of many interests. Alongside her husband, she was a problem-solver extraordinaire, raising her children with a can-do attitude and a wealth of creativity. There wasn’t a task too daunting or a problem too complex for Pat to tackle. She will be remembered by her family for her excellent sewing skills, quilting and teaching sewing.  She made many dresses for her daughters and suits for her son. Also, dinner time at home was mandatory event at 5pm for everyone to share a meal and review the day’s accomplishments.  Her ability to fix or solve any issue was not just a practical skill but a testament to her loving nature and her desire to create a nurturing environment for her family.

Those who knew Pat will remember her as the epitome of love and kindness. Her wisdom was a guiding light, and her gentle approach to life’s ups and downs was a source of comfort to many. Pat’s presence was a gift to her family, her friends, community, and her church.  Pat and her family were members of Gaylord’s First Congregational Church and later the First United Methodist Church.  It was at church that Pat served as a deaconess and the Ladies Guild where they were known for the many Pasties they produced for fundraising.  Additionally, Pat was a longtime member of Zonta Club.

Pat’s journey through life was marked by the love and laughter she shared with those around her. During her retirement with her husband, the couple traveled extensively throughout the United States along with visiting England, and Scotland.  It was while in Europe that Pat honed her genealogy searching for her ancestral beginnings.  Pat also visited Salt Lake City’s Morman ancestral archives to further explore her family genealogy.

Mrs. Kilbourn is survived by her cherished family including her children; Kathy (Mike) Zimbicki, Brad Kilbourn, and Susan (Casey) Dickinson.  She was the beloved grandmother of Dean (Sara) Gapinski, Sara Ann (Scot) Middlebrook, Terry (Angela) Gapinski, Molly (John) Synder, Aimee (Wilson) Padilla, Andrew Kilbourn, Jade Harding, Christopher (Mary) Dickinson, Jonathan Dickinson, and great-grandmother of sixteen.  Pat was the dearest sister of Emma (Joe) Wolf and the late Irene (Dale) Peterson.  She was predeceased by her cherished husband Robert, her son David Lee, her great-granddaughter, Emily Renee, her son-in-law, Thomas Gapinski, and her parents.

Pat’s legacy is one of love, kindness, and wisdom, virtues that will live on in the hearts of those she touched. 

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. from Nelsons Funeral Home, with memorial visitation beginning at 11:00 a.m.

Memorial donations in Mrs. Kilbourn’s name are appreciated to the Porches of Gaylord, 435 Murner Rd. Gaylord, MI 49735 or Gaylord Methodist Church, 215 Center Ave. PO Box 617, Gaylord, MI 49735.

Arrangements were entrusted to Nelsons Funeral Home, PO Box 1548, Gaylord MI 49734. Please share memories of Mrs. Kilbourn at the comment section below.

14 comments on “Viola E. “Pat” Kilbourn”

  1. Steve Glasser. Lynne Matuszak

    Casey and Sue and family,

    So sorry for your loss, you are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Steve Glasser
    Lynne Matuszak

  2. So sorry to hear of your loss. My mom enjoyed talking with Pat. I can’t recall how they met, Tupperware maybe, my mom bought a lot of it! After my mom passed Pat and I would continue the chatting when ever we would happen into each other.

  3. Cynthia Prusakiewicz

    Kathy, Brad and Sue,
    Your mom was a beacon of joy. Always letting us get together as children, I too was touched by her sewing skills… making aprons to begin with my years of sewing …
    Our friendship between our families and Kathy and me. Riding your horse together, our friendship at school, many great childhood memories…
    Much love we shared and I will always remember your mom’s smile.
    💝 Cyn Prusakiewicz

  4. Kathleen Arndt

    Condolences for the entire Kilbourn family.
    You’re parents were loved by many in our community, a good friend to all and will be missed.

    Kathleen Arndt & Family
    Carol Wilkinson & Family
    Marcella Fahselt & Family

  5. Renee (Mench) Matlock

    Kathy and Brad (everyone else in the family too) I’m extremely sorry for your loss. Pat always had a smile and she was always busy but never too busy to show her love of others. She will be greatly missed.

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