Patricia Klein Mansfield

December 22, 1941 - July 12, 2023
Patricia Klein Mansfield

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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 sailboat racing and shared many adventures on the waters of Lake Michigan, some harrowing, aboard their yawl-rigged, Maine-built John Alden Malabar Junior, Genesis. Pat and Michael chose the name cleverly, for their classic sailboat was the origin of an exciting and immensely educational life on the water, which 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. Assisted by her husband’s brilliant development of proprietary software, they together created ARTSearch, a system for the retrieval of text and visual information for the university’s vast Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection for research and artistic inspiration. The system was called ARTSearch and was later utilized by museums in the U.S. and abroad.

Pat’s 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 they chanced upon near Avon one day while touring the Outer Banks. It was there in the late 1990s on historic Bath Creek that they docked and lived aboard their last sailboat, the 20-ton ketch-rigged Bonnie Read, a salty-looking clipper bow, raisedquarterdeck Vagabond 47, while they built their dream home on the bluff above.

Once completed, the Mansfield home became a “party-central” of sorts and the hospitable team hosted many memorable gatherings there including “Orphan Christmas,” “December Birthdays & Friends,” maritime history events, and book signings. In Pat’s words, “Fun, laughter and Michael’s handcrafted pizzas were key ingredients for creating happy memories.” One of the more impactful events was a summertime cookout to celebrate the 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, whose house stands on land once owned by Blackbeard’s patron Gov. Charles Eden and later by his cooper Edward Salter, went all-in, so to speak, and was determined to build a full-sized replica of the notorious pirate’s last command, the sloop Adventure. Pat’s dream was to launch the Adventure II as an educational platform and “tall ship” sailing ambassador representing Beaufort County and the state of North Carolina, with the assistance and encouragement of her good friend, the renowned naval architect and artist, Melbourne Smith, designer and builder of the topsail schooner Pride of Baltimore. Pat formed a board of directors of the Pamlico’s best and brightest but unfortunately, 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. The framed document can be viewed in the church’s Noe Building. Also, during a particularly challenging time in her life in 2018, Pat courageously devoted herself to organizing a grand and memorable gala and exhibition at Washington’s Turnage Theater for the 300th Anniversary event, “An Evening with Blackbeard and Friends,” just days before losing Michael.

Whether sailing across the Atlantic aboard Queen Mary II, crewing aboard the tall ship Virginia through a horrendous storm on the way to Bermuda, or riding a camel over the sands of the Sahara, Pat cherished her adventures.

This unfortunately insufficient tribute to Pat’s remarkable life would be even more incomplete without mentioning her 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.

Memorial service will be held at the Columbarium at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Bath, NC at 12:30pm on Wednesday July 19, with a reception immediately following in the Noe Building.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Thomas Episcopal Church to be expressly used for the maintenance of the columbarium 101 Craven St, Bath, NC 27808

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)


Memorial Service

St. Thomas Episcopal Church
101 Craven St, Bath, NC 27808

Reception immediately following in the Noe Building.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

St. Thomas Episcopal Church

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  • July 19, 2023
    Julie Crawford lit a candle:
    Lit since July 19, 2023 at 7:53:00 AM