Nurse, educator Dean dies at age 78

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat /

Patricia Dean, a longtime figure in the healthcare and educational fields in Tuolumne County, died of cancer on Sunday. She was 78.

Dean was a former head of nursing at both Tuolumne General and Sonora Community hospitals before teaching nursing at Sonora High School and Columbia College.

She was born in Merced and grew up on a family farm.

"From the time she was a little kid, she always said she was going to be a nurse, and that's all she could talk about," said her sister, Kathleen Cookham, who also said she and her sister remained close friends their entire lives.

Dean worked at a few city hospitals before moving to Sonora with her husband, Bob Dean, in 1979. She quickly took over as head of nursing at Tuolumne General Hospital and later Sonora Community Hospital.

She was among the first to become involved in Sonora High School's certified nurse's assistant program, teaching and serving on an advisory board.

"I think that was her passion, helping people find the best in themselves," said her daughter, Susan Munsel, who has also led a career in healthcare, now at Sonora Regional Medical Center's Cancer Center. "Some of the best nurses I work with now … took the CNA program," Munsel said.

A rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Sonora. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 11 at the church with a reception to follow at St. Patrick's Parish Hall. A private graveside service will be held at Plainsburg Cemetery in Le Grand, Merced County.

The family requests that donations be made in her honor to the Pat Dean Medical Scholarship Fund at the Sonora Union High School District Office, 100 School St., Sonora, CA 95370, Attn: Susan Pittman.

For the complete story, see the Sept. 4, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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