Very Sad News: The Death of Pat Wand (Colombia) in Spain

Pat Wand suffered a stroke this week preparing to hike the El Camino in Spain. She had arrived in Europe on Tuesday, April 25, 2023 and died on Thursday, April 27th. What follows is an article by Jerry Norris published on July 2021 on our site that sums up Pat’s amazing life and career, and her great contributions to the Peace Corps. She is a woman who will be  missed by everyone that she helped here and around the world. — John
The Volunteer Exemplar for the Peace Corps’ 3rd Goal–Pat Wand (Colombia)
by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963-65)

Patricia A. Wand, Pat to her hosts of friends and associates across planet earth, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia from 1963 to 1965 after graduating cum laude in history from Seattle University’s Honors Program. As a rural community development and health education volunteer she taught nutrition, sewing, knitting, and public health and worked with local juntas to build three schools and a bridge. In 1969, she was on Peace Corps staff in the Eastern Caribbean. Thereafter, writing about and detailing her professional career at home and abroad is an exhausting task—as Pat somehow discovered how to get more than 24 hours out of a work day and seven days out of a week!

In Pat’s own words, this is how she described her Peace Corps experience.

A half century ago, service as a Peace Corps Volunteer introduced me to a culture totally different than the one I knew. Within that different culture I came to see individual women and men whose needs for water, food, shelter and good health were the same as mine. Those individuals aspired to a peaceful, joyful life with productive work, education for their children and ways to fulfill their own potential. They became unique individuals to me and affected my life in profound ways. I left Peace Corps with a deep loyalty to Colombia, and a commitment to individuals living in different cultures globally. That loyalty and commitment motivated me to work for peace through education and by developing libraries and information centers in communities around the world.

And — my, did Pat live that commitment in her professional life following Peace Corps! After teaching over a period of four years, in 1967 she found a career as a libraryian, first as staff in Wittenberg University Library in Springfield, Ohio. She moved on in 1972 to be reference librarian at the College of Staten Island, City University at New York, followed in 1977 by becoming Head, Access Services, at Columbia University Libraries in New York. In 1982, Pat was the Assistant University Librarian for Public Service, University of Oregon, and in 1989, she became University Librarian and Professor, American University, Washington, D. C.

This experience across major libraries in the U. S. was central to her appointment in 2006 as Dean of Library and Learning Resources and Professor, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates. Here, during 2006-2010, Pat contributed to the development of the information infrastructure for an emerging nation, starting the first consortium of academic libraries in the UAE. For the new campus in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Pat’s team designed state-of-art libraries to support students preparing for success in a knowledge-based economy.

Burj Khalifa, wikipedia

From her Dubai apartment, Pat witnessed the rise from the desert of Burj Khalifa to its full height as the tallest building in the world. At the same time, she took advantage of her location to learn about the principles of Islam and the rich history of the peoples in the Arabian Gulf.

Within these commitments, Pat managed to publish 34 articles, 44 book reviews, and deliver 52 papers at professional conferences and serve on several editorial boards. In 1998, 1999 and 2000, she testified to the U. S. House Appropriation Subcommittee in support of budgets for the Library of Congress and Superintendent of Documents on behalf of the American Library Association and four other national library associations.

While at American University, she managed to find time to attract collections that form the nucleus of the Peace Corps Community Archive. Now, there is a centralized archive maintained by a highly respected University where researchers and students from around the world can delve into records — correspondence, reports, photos, film, and archival memorabilia — deposited by Peace Corps volunteers and former staff from their years of service.

Not satisfied with these professional responsibilities, Pat still found time to serve on the Board of the National Peace Corps Association, the Friends of Colombia, West Cascade Peace Corps Association (Eugene OR), and the Association of College and Research Libraries. She chaired the Committee on Legislation, American Library Association, 1997-98, and served as President of the District of Columbia Library Association, 1996–97. In 2021 she completed six years as an Endowment Trustee for the American Library Association, being named in 2019 the first woman to serve as Senior Trustee.

Pat’s latest activity involves her not surprisingly key role in extending the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience from its roots in Portland OR to a permanent presence in the Nation’s Capital. The Museum’s vision focuses on connecting people around the world to inspire service and peace, showing that our common humanity is more fundamental than the cultures and ideas that separate us. Its mission is to collect and preserve stories and objects of material culture donated by volunteers who served in communities around the globe. The Museum fosters cultural understanding through education and promotes research on the impact of Peace Corps, encouraging visitors to serve — wherever they live, however they can.

Pat has been listed since 1993 in “Who’s Who in the World,” “Who’s Who in America,” and “Who’s Who of American Women.” She has earned awards from Antioch University New England; University of Michigan School of Information; Association of College and Research Libraries; and the Fulbright Senior Lecturer Award to Ecuador. Thus, in consideration of a professional life exemplarily lived in service to others through Peace Corps’ 3rd Goal, there is more than ample justification for Pat to have a well-earned Profile in Citizenship.





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  • What a terrible loss to the Peace Corps community and the world. I feel so honored to have been able to call her a dear friend and much-respected colleague.
    Pat brought great wisdom and insights to our documentary on the Peace Corps (A Towering Task) and we even got to interview her. I am heartbroken.

  • We are all devastated….but like her, and in her spirit, we will carry on. This was the ending to many of her emails to me: “Onward and upward…..”

  • Pat clearly made an impact on the Peace Corps and RPCV community – her passing is a loss for all of us. My heart goes out especially to her family and friends who had the honor of knowing her well.

  • I had been thinking of Pat this afternoon before receiving the news of her passing. A number of my generation have been asking advice on what to do with their letters during Peace Corps service as well as items collected from their service that have to be thrown away because of downsizing. I always immediately thought of Pat and shared contact information for the American University Peace Corps Archive as well as the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience. My condolences to her family!

  • Pat has been a pillar of Peace Corps community for more than a decade. It may not be easy to find new leaders who will keep the community strong.

  • Though I never had the pleasure of meeting Pat in person, her energetic spirit seemed to be ever-present at PC and Museum Zoom meetings. In the emails sent to me, she was very complementary about the two memoirs I wrote and requested copies for the Peace Corps archive at American University.

    Pat put forward the image of an ideal Peace Corps Volunteer: generous and energetic to the end.

    Thanks for your service to us for all these many years. My condolences to her family. I know they’ll miss her too.

  • Pat’s friends at National Peace Corps Association are devastated by this tragic news. She accomplished so much on behalf of our entire community over many years as one of the most important and successful champions of the Peace Corps I have known. For me personally, she has meant more than perhaps any other ally of NPCA over the last 9 months. This is a loss we will not soon get over. My deepest condolences to Pat’s family.

  • I knew Pat as a fellow librarian and a fellow RPCV. She was very involved in many aspects of the American Library Association, but in particular the International Sustainable Library Development Interest Group, a group of RPCVs who were librarians interested in international library development. We planned programs together and attended a networking lunch on Saturday of each annual and midwinter conference. We watched her enthusiasm as the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience came into being. She will be greatly missed.

  • Glenn and I were devastated to hear about Pat’s death. Pat reached out to me as a friend soon after Glenn was hired as CEO and President of NPCA 10 years ago, and has continued as a stalwart supporter and true friend! The three of us have been fast friends ever since—from champagne dinners on her patio, to evenings at Jose Andes’ Spanish Diner in Bethesda—-we have spent many lovely evenings together, bonding over our humble farm family upbringings and Peace Corps experiences. Pat was the original badass get-it-done mover and shaker! She got me involved in the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience, and was a wise mentor to both Glenn and me!

    Pat dropped by our home a week before leaving for Spain. The past months have been difficult for us—-and also for her with all the changes in NPCA and concerns for the future of the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience at Peace Corps Place. She was looking forward to reflection during her pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago—I was so looking forward to hearing her stories of her adventures! After our time together—and after our goodbyes—she came back saying she needed a hug. She hugged me and then Glenn, telling each of us “I love you”.

    I am so devastated at the loss of our friend. My heart breaks for Kirk and family, and her beloved Oregon family. I truly hope she knew in her last moments that “I love you too, Pat. Thank you for everything”.

    Cathy Blumhorst

  • Pat’s passing is a tremendous loss for the Peace Corps community and for all of us who considered her a dear friend. She was a member of the search committee that hired me at NPCA in 2013 and we forged a close working relationship and deep friendship over the years. Pat was a trusted advisor and mentor to me personally, and a true champion of the Peace Corps’ Third Goal. She has been a staunch supporter and advocate on behalf of Cathy and me during the recent troubling times at NPCA. I am committed to doing my part to advance Pat’s vision for a Museum of the Peace Corps Experience and hope we will all honor her by pressing onward and upward toward that goal. My most sincere condolences to all of Pat’s many friends and family.

  • I know many of you will share my sadness learning of the recent passing of our friend and fellow RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) Pat Wand (Colombia 63-65) who just died suddenly due to a fall as she began “El Camino” (the many centuries old nearly 500 miles walk/pilgrimmage route in Spain)–a trip I had on my own bucket list.

    As those who knew her know, Pat was a mighty force for decades in the Peace Corps community (and beyond). Professionally and academically, she worked as a librarian domestically & abroad including the UAE, as well as a researcher & adjunct faculty at my alma mater AU.

    In retirement Pat was among the founders of the wonderful Museum of the Peace Corps Experience. We were just recently trying to find a time we could schedule another collaborative RPCV event sharing our Peace Corps stories (ie, the Third Goal of Peace Corps – “bringing the world back home”). These “espadrilles” are actually her original “alpargatas” from Colombia–artifacts that accompany one of her many stories of her own Peace Corps experience. Some of you might have seen them on display at the MPCE exhibition at the museum at the Katzen Center at AU in 2021 or perhaps on some virtual programs she and I hosted together. The other photo was taken during her service in San Joaquin, Santander, Colombia (’63-’65).

    Not able to keep up with her very busy life still full of travel adventures, visits home to family in Seattle and ongoing volunteer work, I had expected to perhaps see Pat at RPCV/W’s gala tomorrow (tonight) or catch up again soon for lunch or perhaps another RPCV gathering such as with NoVa RPCVs. (This photo of us was taken in 2014 or 2015 at RPCV/W’s holiday party).

    We just never know when the last time will be to see our friends and loved ones. And when loss like this comes, we are reminded just how precious and fleeting life is. We are reminded to cherish one another and the moments that remain.

    Pat led a vibrant life, full of purpose and adventure until the very end. We should all hope for the same ourselves. Pat leaves behind a greatly admired legacy and meaningful impact within our Peace Corps community and beyond.

    My deepest condolences to her family and all who knew and loved her. May her memory be a blessing for us all. 🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋

  • So sorry to hear this news. Pat was a such warm and delightful colleague. I always appreciated her wise and calming influence and her nice smile at church. I and the entire Peace Corps community will miss her tireless dedication. Peace to you, Pat.

  • I grew up in the same neighborhood in Portland, Oregon (Parkrose). I found my fellow Oregonian out here in DC. Pat shared some of her Peace Corp stories and I always loved the kindness and taste for adventure that underlay her accomplished and dignified bearing. I have to say Pat’s bowing out while doing El Camino resonates, but I’ll miss her terribly.

    • Pat did not die on the Camino de Santiago but in a hospital, preparing for the walk. Talk to Don Chery who knows more. She arrived in Spain with a headache but managed to let people know she had arrived. She was found unresponsive and taken to a hospital. Her son went to Spain to arrange for the cremation of her body.

  • I didn’t know Pat well, but any time I encountered her she was the utmost of a compassionate professional, especially during the COVID lockdown when she was creating the museum against challenging odds. Her death is an enormous loss to the Peace Corps community and the larger world society.

  • Such terrible and sad news. Pat certainly lived her best life but has left her community at a loss. My sincere sympathies to her family and friends. May your memories together hold you close.

  • I did not know Pat well, but the one time I met her I knew that she represented one of the major reasons I joined Peace Corps (Tanzania, 1964-66): to meet and be inspired by individuals working for the benefit of all people everywhere. Pat took her experience and energy to enhance the spread of knowledge and raise the profile of libraries in several countries. We owe her our gratitude for her service in the USA, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East. Well done!

  • It is a beautiful tribute to Pat and the diversity of her engagement as a global volunteer. I am so pleased to read about her Peace Corps work and building community everywhere she went. She did that for us in the library world as well. It brings me tears of sorrow in our hearts at our loss but also tears of joy at the great impact she made on all of us. Thank you for sharing your stories and you love of Pat. For me she will always be a woman of conscience, committed to making the world a better place, an altruistic person who gave freely and often to all.

    There were so many stories of people mixing us up – I go by Pat or Patty Wong and sometimes we heard each other’s names and mistakenly rose together and answered a call meant for the other. We shared many a chuckle over that, but so eager to be in service with one another in this case, with libraries.

    We are lucky to call her friend.

  • Pat had a beautiful spirit, a heart of gold and a brilliant mind. She’s a woman who inspired us through her life’s work and dedication. What an outstanding and compassionate human, friend and colleague I will always cherish! I’m both fortunate and honored to have known Pat via the PC community, and I will miss her terribly. May Pat’s spirit shine bright and her legacy live on in our hearts and minds.

  • Pat was a friend, who first introduced me to the NPCA community when she interviewed me and my husband for the Peace Corps Oral History Project. She and I have worked together ever since. My calendar has a note on it with the date of her anticipated return so that we could set up a time to talk. Sadly, that will not happen. The outpouring of grief on this site and in other email chains is a testament to the deep connections she made with so many in this community. We will miss Pat, and we will do our best to carry on her legacy.

  • Very sad Pat Wand has passed away; a wonderful, wonderful human being. She was a friend, fellow Colombia RPCV and the person that encouraged me to donate documents to the archive.

  • I first met Pat in graduate school in the mid 60’s . Even then she cultivated professionalism which was hone over the years. She was a factor in my joining the Peace Corps.

    Rest in peace, see you in the morning

  • I am a newbie in Pat’s life, only 6 + change years. I met her and Glen when they came to Portland to hear about the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience project. At the end of the meeting we exchanged cards and started as “working RPCV volunteers.” It morphed into so much more. One did not have to spend more than a few minutes with Pat to experience the Pat phenomenon.
    From the very beginning I called her “the magic Wand” cause to my dismay no matter how good I thought I wrote something , she always improved it.!
    I don’t want to, but I will have to change her number in my phone from speed dial to spiritual dial.
    With love Pat, always.

  • Pat recruited me to volunteer with the Peace Corps Oral History project back in late 2017. From the beginning I couldn’t help but admire her vitality, enthusiasm, and commitment to engage in the world and the causes she cares about. She quickly became a secret role model to me. I can only hope to live a life as fulfilling as hers and to affect as many people as she has with her kind actions.

  • I had the pleasure of serving with Pat on the NPCA board a decade or so ago. The association was always in her heart and she managed to connect us with her other associations as well. She was a natural community builder. When I lost my sister a decade ago from breast cancer, Pat had recently suffered a similar loss. She was one of the first to make that connection and offer me very special condolences. Now I offer heartfelt condolences to her family. She lived a life of purpose, giving and love. She died doing what she had undoubtedly long planned to do. Camino is a beautiful pilgrimage. I’m sure she brought special intention to it. Now she’s with God and her loved ones who went before. Rest in peace seems especially appropriate.

  • Shocked and saddened . Pat was a quintessential RPCV – third goal. Her vision, determination and commitment to SO many important projects contributed to NPCA, RPCVs, the Peace Corps and the world ad infinitum.

    I have known and been impressed with Pat for decades. We worked on so many projects and events in DC over the years.

    Before Pat left for Spain, she called to promise to share her pilgrimage when she returned and introduce me to the Peace Corps Experience Museum since I would be in Oregon – a museum that she was so key in developing.

    Pat came to my house three times carrying her own empty boxes even – to pick up my Peace Corps books and documents for the new library. They were immediately catalogued and the list sent to me – always so efficient, responsible with timely follow through. One thing was sure – you could always count on Pat.

    As I read these tributes, I am astonished (but not surprised) at how many RPCVs she continually related to. Her loyalty to RPCVs was eternally steadfast. How did she have so much time in her day to relate to so many in such a caring way and accomplish so much? Her generosity of spirit and capacity for friendship and relationships to colleagues was insatiable. Her legacy lives on. Thank you, Pat, for your very positive important impact on our world. You will always be remembered in shining light as we all benefit from what you left behind. RIP Geri

  • Pat was a gracious and steady voice of wisdom in the NPCA community. I first met her while serving on the NPCA Board twenty years ago and always looked forward to seeing her at Colombia events. She will be missed, but she leaves us a wonderful legacy in the Peace Corps Museum. Thanks for your loving service and for your friendship, Pat… Abrazos..

  • This past December I contacted Patricia Wand while looking for some kind of forum for my website about the Peace Corps experience in Fiji, called Daily Life In Ono-i-Lau. We spoke on Face Time over the phone a number of times over the past few months. (She wanted us to literally see each other as we talked.)

    I remember the first time we spoke her camera kept slipping because it was a phone juggled in front of her, and she was busy taking notes the whole time, until she had to go. It was a cold and windy night and she was headed out to a street corner somewhere, apparently to hold a sign in support of some project she favored.

    We had never heard of each other before. I live in rural Alaska. But, in spite of her position and other duties, she was interested and engaged and encouraging.

    After that, when I spoke with her she asked questions, offered ideas, made comments — and actually worked to try to understand who I was, why we were talking, and how she could help me make the most of what I had to present.

    I hadn’t gotten around recently to contacting her again for more direction and ideas, but was thinking about it when I read in an email today that she had passed away.

    It’s disappointing. Few people nowadays have the time, the skill and the genuineness to make themselves available to strangers in such an open and transparent manner.

    It reminds me of my Peace Corps friend, Jay Katzen, who died a few years ago in Talkeetna, Alaska, where he had last worked as a national park ranger for Denali Park. Jay had a strong background, too. He served in the Peace Corps as regional director of programs in Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia, and also as Chief of Operations of the Peace Corps. He — like Pat Wand — was someone who had learned to listen, to encourage, and to lead.

    Leadership is subtle. Like my friend Jay, Patricia Wand had a resume as long as your arm, and a background of service that is pretty hard to match.

    But you’d never know it. And that means a lot.

  • Pat & I had a shared appreciation for the iconic, RPCV Moritz Thomsen and his classic PC experience book, “Living Poor.” But she actually went to Ecuador and met him–seven times in Guayaquil. I planned to include her story about it, “Finding Moritz Thomsen,” December 1996, in my forthcoming book, “Moritz Thomsen: The Greatest American Writer No One Knows About.” (I’m looking for a publisher). She nominated Moritz for the Sargent Shriver Award.

    On their last visit in August 1989–two years before his death, Moritz provided the following unsolicited advice to Pat, “…When invited to dinner at the White House, do not fart in those deathly silences while Mrs. Bush is changing the subject…” She ends this story with, “Moritz, I’d like some more advice.”

    Pat was a lifelong advocate for libraries, literature, and all things Returned Peace Corps volunteers. She helped me gift my books to the newly forming Peace Corps Experience Museum and opened her home to friends and fellow RPCVs when Glenn Blumhorst and I were working on a major gift campaign for the NPCA in Washington D. C.

    She will be missed indeed1

  • We were members of the same PC group in Colombia’63-‘65. Pat was our group communicator, organizing reunions, maintaining relationships and keeping the Peace Corps alive for us. She was a kind and thoughtful friend. Pat will really be missed!

  • You will be missed by all, Pat. Our endless meetings to create a Museum of the Peace Corps Experience were led by you over a six-year period with grace and masterful organizational skill. We will be lost for a while until we find new inspiration in our memories of you and your model of taking small baby steps each day toward building a cauldron of Peace Corps experiences. We will continue to find ways to include the voices of all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and share these with future generations of potential Peace Corps Volunteers in your memory.

  • I grew up with Pat and her family in Oregon. Her mom, Alice, and my mom shared a hospital room when my brother and her daughter were born on the same day. As I age, I cherish the memories that included going to “Wand Road”, as it is labeled today. Their property overlooks the Columbia River Gorge…and they had a barn and Ig grew wonderful flowers. We spent hours jumping off the …in the barn and landing into the hay. Alice was known for her wonderful pies. On the Fourth of July, we donned “costumes” and walked in the town’s parade. For those times of belonging, we felt we were, indeed, part of the family.

    Pat was the director of the klan as I saw her and over the years, stories abounded about some new, exciting venture she was taking on. She became my mentor. She was two years my senior and once I knew that she was joining the relatively new program promoted by John F. Kennedy who told us “Ask not what your country can do for you; but ask what YOU can do for your country”, I was hooked. I dedicated my will to be as innovative and strong a woman as she had been, and off I went to Morocco.

    I can certainly not claim to be a steadfast friend of Pat’s, but moments in my life, I found myself wondering what Pat would do.
    With or without her physical presence, I am sad, and ashamed that I never figured out how to see her. What I know is that she appreciated all of us in just her distinct way, and in the meantime, managed to write volumes, design monuments to celebrate how important people and their creativity are to the ongoing breaths of river air we all contribute to while knowing each other.

    Next step: Where would I like to take my last breath?? Very admirable, Patricia!
    Ann Cunningham-O’Connell

  • Ann, what a lovely remembrance. Yes, we should all live our lives according to “what would Pat do”!

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