Biographies

Patricia Rozema Taylor: A Friend to All

Patricia Ann Rozema was born in Birmingham, Alabama on July 29, 1939, the daughter of Nicholas and Philomena Ditman Rozema, but the family moved to Topeka when Pat was a young girl. She spent her youth in Topeka and graduated from Topeka High School in 1957. In later years, Pat organized the 57 Lunch Bunch, a group of THS graduates from her class that met regularly.

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Patricia Rozema sits on the porch with her grandfather, John Ditman of Alma, Kansas.

After graduating from high school, Pat attended the University of Kansas at Lawrence, graduating in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science degree in fine arts. While at KU, Pat was a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and remained an active alumni member of the organization for the rest of her life.

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This portrait of Patricia Rozema was taken while she was a student at the University of Kansas, circa 1960.

On March 3, 1962 Pat married Robert Taylor in Topeka, and the couple lived in Omaha until 1987 when he passed away. Subsequently, Pat moved to Chesterfield, Missouri where she met Gordon Olson who remained her companion until his death in 2009.

Pat returned to Topeka after Olson’s death, returning to the family home. Pat’s parents and her only sibling, Donald, passed away, leaving Pat as the immediate family’s sole survivor. She continued to be very active, working in retail shops in Topeka and volunteering at both the Capper Foundation and Findables.  She became a loyal supporter of the Friends of the Topeka Zoo.

Pat was also a loyal friend to the Wabaunsee County Historical Society (WCHS) and was a longtime member of that organization. In 2007 Pat partnered with her cousin Gail Gibbon of Tulsa to donate a large cache of photographic negatives from the Kratzer family of Volland, Kansas to the WCHS. Pat’s grandmother was Emelia Kratzer Ditman, an older sister of Volland shopkeeper, Otto Kratzer.

Pat was kind to all and always lent a hand to those in need. When Pat was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she went to great lengths to prepare for the devastation that the malady would bring. Pat loved her cats, and she took great care to insure their care.  She disposed of the family home and property before entering a care facility.

Upon Pat’s death on September 12, 2015, without any fanfare or recognition, Pat donated half of her estate to the University of Kansas, and the balance to the Friends of the Topeka Zoo, the Omaha Zoo and the Wabaunsee County Historical Society. She asked that the gifts be given not in her name, but in the names of her parents, Nicholas and Philomena Rozema and her brother, Donald Rozema.

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Philomena Ditman Rozema is seen seated on an unidentified porch.

Pat’s gift of 10% of her estate was the single largest gift that the organization has ever received since the historical society’s founding when Fred Palenske provided the WCHS with its endowment. The WCHS received over $85,000 from Pat’s gift, providing critical funding for the organization. The new upstairs lighting and the WCHS archives at the museum in Alma were constructed with a portion of Pat’s gift.

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Patricia Rozema Taylor

Pat’s unassuming nature and thoughtfulness of others was only exceeded by her generosity.

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