According to those who knew her best, saying that Patricia Steichen cared more than most would be an understatement. The long-time Forest Lake educator passed away Sept. 8, but the kindness she shared throughout the community will be remembered for a very long time.
“She was a very big-hearted girl who always wanted to do things for people,” Steichen’s brother Robert said. “She was a kind person who never forgot a birthday. Her friends and her family and the kids she worked with were her life.”
Steichen attended the University of Minnesota in Duluth and came to Linwood Elementary to teach shortly thereafter. She taught there for more than 34 years. After retirement, she went to Lakes International Language Academy and worked as an administrative assistant starting at school’s inception.
“If you were ever her friend, you were her friend for life,” Robert said. “She never let a friendship lapse. She kept track of everyone, and she sent cards at every single holiday, including Groundhog Day.”
Cam Hedlund is the executive director of Lakes International Language Academy and has worked as an educator in the district for more than 40 years. Most of that time was spent working with Steichen. In their early years of teaching, the two would take groups of students camping up north. They also served together on the teacher negotiation team working for fair wages and benefits.
“There was so much caring in Pat that it was almost hard to imagine,” he said. “She went so far as to keep her fifth and sixth grade students’ work and create a poster for them when they graduated high school.”
Steichen’s seemingly endless amount of care extended beyond her retirement from the district and into her work at LILA.
“Sometimes, people thought we were overworking her at LILA, as she would often be in the building from 7 to 7,” Hedlund said. “The truth, however, was that it was her choice to be there that long because she was always striving to make everyone else’s life easier. She was a full-service friend who was a central figure in the lives of many people.”
Patricia Steichen, 70, of Forest Lake, died Sept. 8. She was born in Hibbing and preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Dorothy. She is survived by her brother, Robert (Judith); nieces, Lora (Trent) Larson, Elizabeth Monsrud; great-nephews and niece, Grant Monsrud, Derek and Audrey Larson; and other family and friends.
A memorial service for Steichen was held Sept. 23 at Roberts Family Funeral Home. Those wishing to honor Steichen are asked to make a donation to the Lakes International Language Academy library, as was her wish.