excerpted from City of Columbia Heights Winter Newsletter
If you’ve ever attended a Coffee With a Cop gathering or a library fundraiser, or a Sister Cities meeting, or any number of volunteer events within the City, you probably rubbed elbows with Patricia Ann Sowada.
“Pat represented community spirit at its finest,” wrote Becky Loader, former library director, in her Outstanding Citizen nomination form, one of four received in 2020. Sowada, who died suddenly October 2 at the age of 77, spent decades actively involved in the community (see Northeaster Oct. 21, or the city newsletter online at columbiaheightsmn.gov).
“She was a good listener, a vocal advocate for literacy, and a believer in the power of libraries to build literacy in learners of all ages,” wrote current library director Rene Dougherty in her nomination submission. “She carefully considered citizen suggestions, consulted staff for advice, and always sought to negotiate a middle way amidst conflicting opinions. Her response was always, ‘Yes! How can we get this done?’”
Pat was also the membership chairperson for the Columbia Heights Sister Cities Committee. Over the years, Pat made a point to attend as many City events as she could. She almost never missed a monthly Coffee With a Cop gathering. She helped out annually at the Library Foundation’s Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser. She once worked as a clerk at the City’s Top Valu Liquor. And she used to be an elementary school teacher at Highland Elementary.
The Outstanding Citizen Award recognizes residents who have selflessly contributed their time and effort to helping people, the environment, and the City community, particularly those who have not otherwise been publicly recognized. Pat was named 2020 Outstanding Citizen with approval from Mayor Donna Schmitt. The City is accepting nominations for 2021.
Below: Pat Sowada, right, flashed her famous smile at the Columbia Heights Library’s 90-year celebration holding a vintage ad touting the versatility of the Dodge station wagon. The headline reads “Glamour Girl and Chore Boy, Too.” Dave Larson at left. (Photo by Margo Ashmore)