By Cypress Cove Resident Marcia Goldberg
Ken and Pat Pettichord take you on a whirlwind tour of countries and experiences while telling of their lives prior to landing at Cypress Cove in July 2020.
Both were born in the State of Washington, Pat in Seattle and Ken in Pullman, on the Idaho border. Their high-school experiences varied greatly, though, with Ken going to a rural high school.
Pullman was a farming community dominated by Washington State University, and most of the students were either members of farming families or children of professors.
Pat, on the other hand, attended a Seattle high school which had a variety of students. They blended well, and she enjoyed the mix and being part of the group involved in student government.
The two found each other at a fraternity-sorority party when Pat was a sophomore at Washington State University. She was majoring in microbiology and, with good grades, had hopes of becoming a doctor, but was encouraged to be a medical technologist. Women doctors were not a “thing” back then.
Ken majored first in engineering but changed to math after he found out the engineering lab had a class that interfered with his newly-found love—bridge—which he played every afternoon in the Student Union building.
That first meeting was followed by their engagement, and they married the day before graduating in 1961.
After marriage Pat, a Phi Beta Kappa, worked at the University of Washington in medical research, including testing children for the newly developed measles vaccine. Ken was employed as a computer engineer with Boeing. He was then transferred to New Orleans for work on the Saturn V rocket (which took men to the moon), and both got a taste of culture shock from the lifestyle and attitudes in the South.
A son was born in New Orleans, followed by identical twin daughters a year and a half later, and Pat left outside work to enjoy motherhood. Ken then left Boeing for IBM’s Federal Systems Division (FSD). Strategic military intelligence was involved, working at Air Force or Navy bases and dealing with the Russians. Travel was extensive.
His career veered again from engineering into marketing when, at a Philadelphia naval base, he secured a very significant contract for IBM. The family moved to upstate New York and spent ten years there while the children were in school. Every week he traveled, including overseas, and IBM gave him many awards for outstanding sales achievements. The family had yearly ski passes, the children were active in sports, studies, and other activities—all of which consumed their time in New York. Pat returned to school, earned a master’s degree in computer science, and joined Ken at IBM.
Their next move was to Boca Raton, Florida, for two years with IBM’s commercial division, then to Houston, Texas, back with IBM FSD, and thence to New Zealand for an international assignment for Ken involving systems integration of new computer software. One of their daughters finished college there and then spent six months traveling around the world.
Pat was a customer support representative for IBM, answering questions about users’ problems, and she was a favorite with the New Zealanders because of her American accent. They enjoyed New Zealand, but during their second year there, Ken developed a serious brain infection, spending five weeks in intensive care followed by four more weeks in the regular patient area. He had to relearn how to walk following this, and was flown to Tampa, Florida. His recovery time took eight months.
But recover he did, and back to Houston they went, with Pat the IBM software engineer and Ken managing a $35 million program developing the Japanese space station. They toured Japan and loved the Japanese people.
When Ken was only 53, IBM FSD was sold to Lockheed. He retired, and Pat started working for Lockheed. After three years they sold their house, bought a recreational vehicle, and toured the United States and Canada. They would stay a few days and take in the interesting aspects of the area, then travel around 200 miles or so to the next spot. This circular route took three years.
The last swing of their tour took them from San Diego to Puget Sound, Washington, where they found an area that met their requirements: a community with similar values, good medical facilities, near an airport and a Unitarian church. They built a home looking north at mountains and islands, and south at a beach where they saw whales and gathered crabs, clams and oysters for dinner. Winters were spent visiting their children in Florida and New York.
After 20 years of this idyllic existence, their children urged them to move closer. They started to think about senior care places, and a visit to their daughter in Cape Coral found them staying four nights in a guest room at Cypress Cove. They liked what they saw, and here they are today.
Pat enjoys the exercise programs and puzzles, reading and trips…even a trip to Sanibel which didn’t involve getting off the bus. They both like being taken care of and the confidence of safe living.
Ken, who ran five miles every day and played tournament tennis until the viral brain infection ended that, has returned to his old love: duplicate bridge every Friday night, plus weekly social bridge.
After their whirlwind life, they’re enjoying a happy, calm existence at Cypress Cove!