Church member, 90, ministers to morale of sick parishioners

March 01, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

He never kept count, but Waldron Patch estimates he has sent 25,000 get-well cards to fellow members of Harundale Presbyterian Church and their loved ones since the early 1970s. And he's still at it.

Every Sunday, Mr. Patch, 90, picks up a new prayer list from the church bulletin and adds new names to his mailing list. "He reads each message to make sure it's appropriate for the person he sends it to," said his wife Helen, 82. He even sends cards to church members while he is on vacation, she added.

Mr. Patch never learned to drive, so his wife takes him to the post office to mail his cards, one every week to those who are ill until they get better. He used to send 35 cards a week, but the increasing cost of postage forced him to cut back to 25 a week, he said.

"I'd like to help someone else out while they were sick and afflicted, bed-ridden," explained Mr. Patch. The cards substitute for personal visits because he cannot always get rides to other church members' homes, said Mr. Patch, who lives in Glen Burnie and has been with the church since 1951.

Mr. Patch grew up in Scranton, Pa., where he worked as a coal miner and a supermarket manager before he moved to Baltimore in 1936 to work for the Social Security Administration. It was there that he met his wife.

The Patches married in 1941. A year later, Mr. Patch joined the Army and served three years at Fort Lee, Va., doing clerical work. He was discharged in 1945 and he returned to the Social Security Administration, where he worked for the next 20 years until he retired.

Over the years, his eyes have clouded and his fingers, which once performed magic tricks, have been crippled with arthritis. He has a cataract in his left eye and a hole in the retina of his right eye, and he wears a dark patch over the right lens of his eyeglasses.

Charlotte Pardoe, a church member who has known Mr. Patch for about 25 years, said she keeps the cards he sends her.

"They're very nice. I enjoy getting them. Lots of times you receive them when you're at a low point," said Mrs. Pardoe, 67. She figures she has received 20 cards from Mr. Patch while she has battled cancer over the past five years.

When he started sending cards, Mr. and Mrs. Patch searched stores for cards with just the right messages. Now Ruth Herwig, who orders cards for the church's Presbyterian Women's Association, also orders cards for Mr. Patch.

Mrs. Herwig said Mr. Patch sent her husband, Philip, a get-well card almost every week from Thanksgiving 1984 until he died after a heart bypass operation in January 1985.

Many who receive Mr. Patch's cards send thank-you notes or place thank-you messages in the church's newsletter.

The congregation recently presented him with an over-sized thank-you card. It also gave him "100 stamps, a box of cards and two ballpoint pens to help him carry on his mission," Mrs. Patch said.

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