Patricia Klein Mansfield
Published 3:35 pm Friday, July 14, 2023
On Wednesday, July 12, 2023, Patricia Klein Mansfield, 81, cast off her lines from this world and her beloved life-saving station replica home, “MKinnakeet” on Bath Creek and set sail on her joyous voyage to her Lord and Heaven. In her beautiful, sparkling wake, her friends, the town of Bath, the Pamlico region, and North Carolina have lost one of the most passionate and enthusiastic advocates of art, architecture, maritime heritage, and horticulture. Pat was born at Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 22, 1941, amongst chaos and destruction in the aftermath of the attack on U.S. Armed Forces at Pearl Harbor. She was the daughter of Sgt. Victor Michael Klein, U.S. Army, and Edna Frieda Thompson Klein. In a providential turn of fate, 15 years later, at East High School in Madison, Wisconsin, Pat met her soul mate and future husband of 54 years, Michael Kent Mansfield. Together, they discovered a love of sailing that eventually brought them to their home at North Carolina’s first town and first port, Bath. Pat was a much-respected and inspirational professor of art and textiles at the University of Wisconsin. Her love of art and architecture, her blue-sky vision and infinite imagination, and her boundless love of maritime subjects, along with Michael’s engineering knowledge, combined to create one of the most creative homes on the coast of North Carolina —“MKinnakeet,” inspired by the 1904 Little Kinnakeet Life-saving Station on the Outer Banks. Once completed, the Mansfield home became a “party-central” of sorts and the hospitable team hosted many memorable gatherings there including a summertime cookout to celebrate the restoration, repair and weatherization of windows of historic Bath High School during the early stages of its preservation in 2007. You cannot live at Bath, North Carolina, without, to some degree, being influenced by its pirate history and the legends of Blackbeard. Pat committed building a full-sized replica of the notorious pirate’s last command, the sloop Adventure. Just as the project was taking hold, the ebbing tide of the nation’s economy during the 2007-09 “Great Recession” drove the effort onto the unmerciful shoals of broken dreams. Other maritime projects were more successful and Pat was extremely proud of her financial and organizational contributions to Bath’s 300th Anniversary celebration in 2005, to Bath’s “First Town First Port” event in 2015 that featured a visit by the state’s governor, and by her influence and creative vision for Bath’s beautiful welcome sign. She was also an ardent supporter of the return to Bath of the mortal remains of Edward Salter, warden and patron of St. Thomas Church, where Pat was a member. Through her connections to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pat acquired from London’s Lambeth Palace and donated to the church a high resolution print of the original letter signed by Salter and the parish vestry in 1734 that proudly announced the construction of the church, the state’s oldest. Pat also possessed an insatiable fondness of the beauty of nature, plants and flowers. She was devoted to the design and maintenance of the extensive gardens surrounding her lovely home. She also spent many peaceful hours tending to the plants that enhance the columbarium at St. Thomas Church where her ashes will be inurned with Michael’s at a future date. Pat’s undeniable and unbridled creative spirit may best be described in Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s words, “The creative process is like music which takes root with extraordinary force and rapidity.” That was Pat — an extraordinary force of creativity, vision, style, and joie de vivre that will always be remembered by her loving friends. Throughout her exceptional life, she quietly touched and inspired many, many people, whether they realized it or not. She will be dearly missed, not the least of which by her constant sidekick, Molly.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to St. Thomas Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 257, Bath, NC 27808 to be expressly used for the maintenance of the columbarium. We wish to gratefully acknowledge the invaluable assistance and support of Tina with Gentiva Hospice of Washington, NC.
(On behalf of her friends Kevin Duffus and Susan Kavanaugh and Maree and Dale Benson)