Pat lived a rich life and died wealthy — not materially, but surely rich because of all the people she enriched on her journey.
The Tenstrike, Minn., native moved to Reno in 1945. In 1953, she joined the Reno Police Department’s identification bureau, was promoted to secretary to the chief, became a sworn officer and the fourth police woman ever hired by the city of Reno.
Pat left RPD in 1958 for the University of Nevada, Reno student affairs office, working there until her 1982 retirement. She termed it “the best career anyone ever had.”
She was a longtime member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. Branch matriarch Dolores Feemster called Pat “one of the most caring human beings I’ve ever met She did so much to help so many at the university, including members of my family.”
Numerous former students influenced by Pat went on to become part of the heart and soul of this community, Ms. Feemster added.
Former Nevada State Sen. Joe Neal, D-N. Las Vegas, called Pat “a dear friend whom I accepted as a member of my family. I knew her from the time I first got elected,” the eight-term (1972-2004) legislative veteran added.
“She always kept up with what I was doing. She would always remember my birthday,” Neal stated.
Pat Fladager was on hand the day Joe Neal made history by filing for governor in 1998. A photo of those present has long been published at www.joeneal.org. Four are now gone: Nevada civil rights legend Bertha Woodard; Carson City Democratic mainstay Lewis Rosenberg; Carson-Tahoe Hospital board and CC Democratic Central Committee chair Pat Potter, and now Pat Fladager.
She served on the board of Common Cause Nevada and was the first UNR classified employee chosen to sit on its human relations committee. She was honored with the State of Nevada Employees Association Jerry Cianci Award and was recognized at UNR’s Honors Convocation with the Thornton Peace Award. She was a member of the Carson City Democratic Women’s Club and, along with several friends, “adopted” a pre school group of Native American children in Hungry Valley. In that capacity, Pat read to, interacted with and supported the youngsters in many ways. In 2004, she was a strong voice in the successful effort to rename a portion of Clearacre Lane as Rev. William C. Webb Circle.
Pat had a long association with Retired Public Employees of Nevada (RPEN), joining in the 1980’s and remaining active until her death. She served in several elected positions with RPEN’s Washoe Chapter and was twice elected its president.
Several years ago, RPEN re-named its most prestigious honor “The Pat Fladager Special Recognition Award.” Unable to attend RPEN’s annual gathering last month in Mesquite, Pat was pleasantly surprised by a conference call allowing her to participate in the “Pat Fladager Awards Banquet.”
At a legislative committee hearing on Sen. Neal’s proposal to emulate New Jersey by banning regulated casinos from involvement in politics, Pat handed me the first contribution to a grassroots organization I formed to support the bill.
I told her she didn’t need to do that.
“I believe in this,” Pat flatly stated. I still have the $50 check made out to Casinos Out of Politics (COP). Pat Fladager was always willing to out her money where her mouth was.
Pat’s only child, Richard Rardin, preceded her in death. If Pat had one regret, it involved her second baby which lives on as the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County’s Access program which provides transportation to the disabled.
Pat and Dorothy Pharis started the service as Elderport, a volunteer organization in the 1970’s. In 1982, RTC placed a sales tax increase on the ballot to “save Elderport.” It was the only time in my life I supported a regressive tax, one that hits harder the lower one’s income.
Immediately after it passed, RTC got rid of Pat and Dorothy and used the sales tax revenue to build the very necessary but inefficient bus system we have today, the one that abuses its workers and is run by a foreign management company for $400,000 a year. (See the history I have compiled at NevadaLabor.com through many years of working on behalf of RTC system workers and Teamsters Local 533.)
My late wife, Betty, liked Pat from the start.
“That is one very together lady,” Betty said.
She wrote her own obituary two years before her death, concluding with a plea “to look not AT each other but rather INTO each other wherein you find the heart and soul whose friendships you will find extremely rewarding.”
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Nov. 4 at Mountain View Mortuary, located at 425 Stoker Street in Reno.
The last time I talked to Pat, we lamented the sorry state of politics as infested with the current crop of madcap candidates.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid will be pleased to learn that Pat Fladager cast her 2010 ballot at an early voting location just six days before she died.
One together lady.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan, second vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org, where remembrances of Pat will be permanently posted. Please send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.