The words friends used to describe Patricia Koll seem endless: pioneer, mentor, caretaker, friendly, outgoing, curious, good sense of humor, organized, disciplined, risk-taker and more.
Generous is the word that underscores her life and her legacy.
Koll grew up in a working class family in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa. Her father was a technician, her mother a homemaker. Trained as an educator, she began her university career at UW Oshkosh in 1968, following a high school teaching career in the Elmbrook School District. She was among the first women in the area to move into administration in the 1970s. Over her 31-year university career, she mentored other women to follow. She was a caretaker, helping friends and colleagues through personal and financial challenges. When she was survived cancer in 1990, she saw it as a sign.
“She had a calling to reach out to other cancer patients and survivors,” said Barbara Herzog, a long-time friend, adding Koll would visit newly-diagnosed cancer patients with books, resources and support. “That was her niche.”
Before cancer claimed her life in 2003, Koll set up several endowed funds to carry on her work, including the Patricia J. Koll Acorn Fund, under the umbrella of the Women’s Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.
“The Women’s Fund really touched her heart in terms of the concept of providing for women and girls,” Herzog said.
Pat liked two words: consummate and quintessential. Through a gift in her will, Koll insured the fund will forever support programs that benefit women and children, the consummate gift from a woman with the quintessential vision for helping others.