Like many other West Marin residents I was dismayed by Rosalie (Missy) Patterson’s death Sunday at the age of 84. She was mother to 11 children, a pillar of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, and a long-time employee of the Point Reyes Light.

For decades beginning in 1959, Missy and her family lived in Inverness although she spent her last few years at Walnut Place in Point Reyes Station.

Missy’s 28-year tenure at The Light was the longest of anyone’s in the paper’s 62-year history. I was second with 27 years.

Sometime after my former wife Cathy and I sold The Light to Rosalie Laird and her short-term partner Ace Ramos in late 1981, Rosalie hired Missy to help with bookkeeping. I kept her on as circulation manager when I reacquired The Light through a default action at the end of 1983.

When I sold The Light to Robert Plotkin in November 2005, he too kept Missy on the job and eventually had her also write a weekly column, Ask Missy. When Marin Media Institute bought The Light earlier this year, Missy kept her front-office job as well as her column.

Missy with former Light reporter Janine Warner and me in 2008. (Photo by Dave LaFontaine)

As front-office manager, as well as circulation manager, of The Light, Missy controlled who was admitted to the newsroom, the ad department, and the production area. She was very aware of the paper’s weekly deadlines and protected staff from folks who just wanted to gab when the paper was going to press.

Her sense of humor was wonderful. She was particularly liked recounting the time an indignant reader slammed the door as she stormed out of the office, only to be jerked to a stop when her skirt caught in the door.

When impertinent acquaintances remarked that she and her husband Donald must have made love constantly to have produced 11 children, Missy would cut them off with, “No, we only did it 11 times.”

Missy in the 2005 Western Weekend parade flanked by the late Frank Cerda (left) and the late Ed Brennan.

Part of Missy’s workday at The Light included trips to the post office and the bank. Six or seven years ago when walking long distances became a strain, Missy acquired an electric scooter to get around town, as well as back and forth from Walnut Place.

For Missy, the scooter was virtually a go-cart. She loved to speed up and down the sidewalk, beeping her horn and sometimes forcing townspeople to jump out of her way.

When Linda Petersen, who runs the front office of the competing West Marin Citizen, had to temporarily use a scooter herself following an horrific traffic accident last year, numerous people encouraged them to hold a race. Missy, whose scooter was more powerful, would inevitably respond, “I’d win.” Linda agreed, and the race was never held despite their being on friendly terms.

Missy died Sunday at Kaiser Hospital in Terra Linda following a brief illness. A funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 28, at St. Columba’s Church in Inverness. A reception will follow at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station.