Collins, Patsy: A Remembrance by her brother Stimson Bullitt

  • By Stim Bullitt
  • Posted 7/10/2003
  • Essay 4218
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Stimson Bullitt (1919-2009) gave this remembrance of his sister Priscilla "Patsy" (Bullitt) Collins (1920-2003) at her Memorial Service at Seattle's Town Hall on July 8, 2003.

In Memory of Patsy

Patsy’s friends: On behalf of her memory and her kin, thank you for your presence.

Greek civilization has been called a triumph of mind, and Roman civilization a triumph of character ... Patsy’s life tilted toward the latter. Her mind was good, but her moral strength, her courage and her principled conduct were extraordinary.

How far religious faith propelled her actions is hard to know. Although she prescribed today’s liturgy, and in meticulous detail, suggesting strong faith, her choice of this program might be attributed to her substantial respect for tradition, augmented by her aim -- concerned with other people, as always -- to console some of us here as we remember our own mortality.

Although she earned her fulsome applause from the press, her merits could have been more accurately weighted. She was depicted as Our Lady of Perpetual Philanthropy, though she did not become a philanthropist until she was 72 years old! For this last decade, after she had sold for cash her interest in King Broadcasting, she gave big bucks, and hit her targets with discriminating marksmanship.

But she applied the same tough-minded, clear-eyed, realism, same values, personal and public, that she had exercised all her long life. And what she did through her preceding adult half century took more effort, resourcefulness and nerve than writing those checks.

Random examples: She confronted hostile Central American police. She dined on lamb stew from her bowl into which it had been ladled by her avuncular host, Chairman Arafat. With neighbors whom she had gathered in her San Diego kitchen, John Tunney started his successful campaign for the U.S. Senate. In New York, she wrangled with NBC brass on issues of unfair news treatment. She went alone to the door of a neighbor who had manhandled one of her little sons, and to the door of another, who had mistreated me in a political campaign, and she told them off. Her prep school class voted her “Most Loyal.” Your presence reflects that.

Few who live to her age escape unhappiness. It can’t be said that she got more than her fair share, because we know that life ain’t fair, but she was afflicted by a double portion. As to all of that, again the Roman, she was stoically silent. Patsy was one tough cooky.

And she was a kind and loving sister.


Stimson Bullitt gave this remembrance of his sister Priscilla "Patsy" (Bullitt) Collins (1920-2003) at her Memorial Service at Seattle's Town Hall on July 8, 2003.

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