Former Bernard Eldredge teacher Patricia Dorn dies
Published: Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 9:23 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 9:23 a.m.
Patricia Dorn, a Bay Area native and Army officer's wife who taught first grade for about 30 years at Bernard Eldredge Elementary School in Petaluma, died Dec. 22 in Humboldt County.
She was 82. The cause was complications due to a neurological disorder.
Dorn, described by her family as independent, strong-willed and bright, was known as a dedicated and demanding teacher at Bernard Eldredge, where she worked from the mid-1960s until the mid-1990s. The school closed in 2010.
She was quiet but strict, a colleague said, and she took pride in teaching generations of children how to read.
“Nobody crossed her,” said Bea Gaffney, a fellow Bernard Eldredge teacher, now retired. “She expected the best from her students and she got it.”
Born in Orinda to German immigrant parents, Patricia Tieche was raised in the East Bay and on the family's 2,000-acre timber ranch in Humboldt County, near Redway.
She was a tough outdoorswoman who was still hauling old logs out of streams in her 50s and hiking through the redwoods with her granddaughters years later.
“She was always active, always going,” said her son, Robert Dorn of Eureka.
She graduated from Acalanes High School in Lafayette and attained her teaching credential from UC Berkeley, graduating in 1952.
She began her teaching career at Hydsville Elementary School in Humboldt County. She met her future husband, Army lieutenant Walter Dorn, when he was visiting the area.
During his military career, her husband was in charge of the Nike missile systems deployed on the West Coast during the Cold War. Before settling in Petaluma, they lived in Texas, New York, Indiana, Japan and Mill Valley.
Pat Dorn taught on the Army base in Japan and began her career with Bernard Eldredge in 1967.
Her forte was reading instruction, and her passion for North Coast forests often found a way into her lessons. She replanted an estimated 50,000 redwood trees on her family's Humboldt ranch over the decades, her son Richard Dorn said.
“That carried over into the classroom,” said Gaffney, her former colleague.
She also was a longtime volunteer on the suicide prevention hotline in Petaluma, a collector of antique dolls and a prodigious world traveller, taking trips to Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
In her retirement, she lived near family in Eureka.
In addition to her son Richard, she is survived by granddaughters Katie and Mackenzie Dorn of Eureka and by brother Frank Tieche, whose residence is unknown.
No services are planned.
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