Patti Wente, age 58, of Effingham, IL, received an invitation of permanent residency with departed family and friends that she couldn’t refuse on Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 4:21 PM. Her new home comes standard with karaoke machine, an unlimited supply of Coca-Cola, Chex Mix, bowls of candy on every table, and a tandem bicycle that is guaranteed not to cut your toe off. After their initial rejoicing, Patti will most certainly settle in with a hug and a grin from ear to ear before dealing out a hand of cards and a request for some fiddle music from her grandpa Joe and uncles.
Patti was born on December 4, 1958, in Belvidere, IL, the daughter of Archie and Anna Mae (Wingerter) Smith. According to her sisters (who are the authority in such matters), she was an honest, happy child who enjoyed singing, dancing and gymnastics. Because of her sunny disposition, she earned the nickname “Happy” as a child. Some of her fondest memories were of the days spent at her grandparents’ farm in Rockwood, Illinois playing with her cousins and sisters. As a young child, she developed a business mindset with her sister and started a backyard vaudeville act charging candy for admission from her cousins and neighborhood children. When she wasn’t busy raking in the Hershey’s, she could be found lurking around corners trying to scare the bejeezus out of those around her. She never grew out of this trait. Another passion she never outgrew was writing. She wrote short stories, poems, and an unpublished novel.
As she got older, her focus turned toward helping others. She worked as a CNA and home health care aid for many years. She enjoyed helping the elderly and infirm, and as we all know, she had a particular gift of gab that helped with this line of work. In addition to caring for the elderly, she was a loving mother who infused her children’s lives with compassion, humor, intellect, and forgiveness.
Patti had a strong sense of humor and a remarkable flair for telling us all how funny the most unfunny of situations were, and in the end we all had to agree because, of course, she was right. Her contagious laugh would always remind us that things could be, oh, so much worse, yet filled us with warmth at the same time. She found delight in the most mundane details and could tell a story with the best of the nation’s celebrated fabulists.
She rooted for the underdog and enjoyed watching the Cubs win the 2016 World Series. She is probably retelling the highlights to her father in Heaven as we speak. She always looked for the good in people and understood that sometimes the ugly was just the weight of the world weighing them down. She always used her quick wit and humor to cheer up those around her. She welcomed strangers and loved ones in need of an ear or a hug into her home whenever possible.
Her spirit is carried on by her daughters and their significant others: Racheal Wente and Phillip Arnold of Davenport, Iowa, and Jodi and Jason Durre of Effingham, Illinois; 7 grandchildren -Andrew Austin, Madeline Austin, Jacob Austin, Danny Austin, Brandon Austin, Grace Durre, and Tristan Durre; and 3 sisters- Beverly and Thomas Dirkes, Lori Leftwich, and Sarah and Carl Fergus all of Tennessee; and numerous nephews and a sassy, rough and tumble niece.
She was met at her new residence by her parents, her daughter, Megan Diane, and her son, Erick David and many other loved ones.
We want to let her know that she did a great job and wish her a safe journey. We will remember her smile, her warmth, her energy, and her love for life, family and friends.
As per Patti’s wishes, cremation rites will be accorded. Burial in Pleasant Ridge Cemetery, Rockwood, IL, will be at a later date. Johnson Funeral Home in Effingham is assisting the family.