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"Sisters and Service" by Marybeth Holland O'Hearn, Esq.

Presidential Inauguration of Patricia H. Draves, PhD

We, the family and friends of Patricia Draves, are delighted to be here at Graceland for this exciting celebration. Pat is an accomplished scientist, educator and administrator. She has passion and vision. She has had much success. She is steadfast.  She is kind. But you know that.

Today, as one of her sisters, I would like to share the values we sisters were raised with and which Pat developed over time in a real and personal way. I think you will gain some insight into who Pat really is and why she is so accomplished.

I’d like to call my speech “Pat’s Rules for a Totally Successful and Awesome Life,” but perhaps that is not entirely appropriate for this most formal occasion. But what the heck, I am her older sister and I am standing here. So, here’s some background first . . .

Pat is the middle daughter of three sisters. Our younger sister’s name is Margaret. We were born to second generation Irish immigrants. Our parents were born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Our father, Tom, here today, was the first generation of college graduates, graduating with a chemistry degree. During her life, our mother was a wise and loving force. Our parents impressed upon us (and that’s putting it lightly) the importance of education, love of family, service and hard work.

Which leads us to Pat’s Number One Rule for a Totally Successful and Awesome Life . . .

  1. Hard work is the pathway to success – every job – no matter how seemingly small, should be done well, and you should have one at all times . . . or as we reluctantly say, Dad was right!Let me tell you a story about that. At the end of the school year (maybe sophomore in high school), as summer began in Cumberland, Rhode Island, my father asked Pat what job she was going to work that summer and when she was going to start working. She told him she planned to start her search shortly. Jobs were plentiful in those days! My father insisted (that’s kind, but he’s here today so keep that in mind) that her search should commence immediately, as it may take some time. So, Pat left right away in the red Dodge Swinger with a leaky AC (that’s another story) to start her search. In about half an hour – my father barely had time to boil water for tea – Pat walked in the door. Cool and calm. My father asked how she made out – did she get a job? She said yes, I got two! He smirked. She was always an overachiever. She started scooping ice cream and bagging burgers days later.

    The title of this speech is Sisters & Service. My sisters and I had lots of jobs in high school and college. We all worked work-study. Usually, my sisters and I worked more than one job. I know I will forget some, but let me give you a flavor of some of the more interesting ones.

    Margaret worked at a Chinese restaurant waiting tables, as a camp counsellor, and as a nursing home aide – cleaning and bathing patients.  She is the CEO of a major Social Service agency, bettering the lives of children and their families.

    I worked as a sales clerk at a deli and a bakery, as a waitress, on the line at a shampoo bottling factory, and as a telephone salesperson selling newspaper subscriptions. I am a trial lawyer.

    Pat worked at an eyeglass factory, as a candy striper, at a hospital transporting patients, as a counter person at Burger Chef, and as an ice cream server. She is your President.

    And here’s the part where Dad was right. Each of those jobs taught us something. We served others. We became disciplined. We had our own money and independence. We paid for college books and clothing. We developed pride in ANY work we did. We also learned what we didn’t like. What a poor boss or leader was. What discrimination and sexual harassment looked like.

    In those high school and college jobs, Pat learned how to be and how not to be. She became an adult.
    Rule #1 recap:  Keep busy. Work hard. Do your best. No matter what.

    Pat’s not all about work though. Even she has enjoyed many a trip to Walt Disney World, which leads us to Rule #2.

  2. Arrival at the gate of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom a half hour before the park is scheduled to open will guarantee that you ride all major attractions with no wait time by 10:30 a.m. (This is Pat’s version of the early bird gets the worm).Pat shows up, she’s beyond punctual, she has a strategy and she is organized. We take on family trips to Disney World like a Navy Seals operation, with Pat at the command. Assets are dispatched to specific locations – to which they literally run to assure maximum enjoyment.  We now take on foreign country visits this way.

    Pat may be quiet, polite and gentle . . . but be assured she has a plan or is adopting one . . . and she will likely be the first one to get where she is going.

    Rule #2 recap:  Make a plan. Be prepared. Show up early and run like hell. Then enjoy the ride!

  3. Science and education are awesome – but so are the arts, culture, travel, history and rock and roll.Pat is well rounded. She is truly a “liberal artist.” She was an incredible dancer – especially at ballet, where she excelled throughout her childhood. She played flute in the high school band – she was the band major. She enjoys musical theater. She even danced with the J. Giles Band in her college years – along with Mount Holyoke classmates. And so, while Pat spent lots of time during her formative years in a chemistry lab working on stuff like curing cancer, she did not lock the door behind her and never come out. She is curious. She is adventurous – she’s been around the world on lots of journeys.

    Rule #3 recap:  Enjoy life. Stretch yourself. See the world. And dance when you can . . .

    Speaking of the chemistry labs, that’s where Pat met her husband, your colleague and professor Jeff Draves, at the University of Illinois – he is an equally accomplished scientist and educator . . . which brings us to Rule #4.

  4. You can’t do it all alone. And it’s way better with a man who is really smart and is an incredible cook.Pat and Jeff met as grad students at U of I. They have been married for over 25 years and worked in academia, advancing their careers at the same colleges until Pat went into administration, working side by side in various Chemistry Departments of those colleges. They have been together – grown together – at work and home, since they met. How they have survived all that togetherness, I don’t know, but they have! They share the chores, they support each other, and Jeff is an incredible chef!

    Rule #4 recap:  Choose a spouse carefully. And if they are not already a great cook, make sure they are willing to learn! Here we are at our next Rule!

  5. Love and kindness is everywhere – especially in the presence of suffering, loss and illness. Bring it yourself. And accept it too.Like all of you, Pat and our family have lived a life which has not been without unexpected tragedy, illness of friends and family, loss and hard times. Just one example is our mother’s passing several years ago after a long and difficult illness with frequent hospitalizations. There was love and laughter in those hospital rooms. Pat shows up at difficult times, in a quiet and unassuming way. She will hold your hand and wipe your forehead with a warm cloth. And if she has difficult times, although it is not in her nature as she is usually the giver, she has learned to accept kindness and help.

    Rule #5 recap:  Be kind and loving at all times, especially the tough times, and let others love and support you. This is the greatest service. Compassion.

    While showing up for the hard times is important, the small stuff matters too. Which leads me to Pat’s next Rule for living . . .

  6. There’s not much a strong cup of coffee or a hot cup of Earl Gray tea can’t cure.This is pretty self explanatory. Working hard, showing up, being loving and being kind can be exhausting for a woman. Grab a cup of coffee to help (make it dark roast), or have a cup of tea to calm down . . . and don’t forget to make one for your husband, parent, co-worker, friend or children – or sister – while you’re at it.

    Rule #6 recap:  Tea is good. Coffee is better. Share it.  

    Sharing the small stuff is a skill that Pat learned to teach well about 22 years ago, when her twin boys, Benjamin and William, were born, which leads us to our final rule.

  7. One is good. Two is better. Where there’s a Will, there’s a Ben!Pat has always had a strong will and fortitude. In our family, we swear that her strong desire to grow her family created the birth of twins. You can see that pattern of overachieving here! Pat’s and Jeff’s boys are amazing, intelligent, funny college students. Ben is in Boston and Will is in Ohio. It’s not surprising with Pat and Jeff as their guides.

    Rule #7 recap:  Love, serve and teach your children. Love, serve and teach other people’s children. Repeat.


I have tried to present Pat’s core values in a humorous way, more suited to a blog post on Buzzfeed. But the truth is that Pat’s values are eternal values:  hard work, preparation, balance, service, sharing, kindness, family, generosity and love. My sister – your president – does not just “have” these values. She lives them. She performs them. She practices them daily. That is why we honor her today.

In conclusion, I ask you – as she would – that the next time you order Chinese food, get an ice cream cone or receive a telephone sales call . . . remember . . . that young person just may be your next president.