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Patricia Tartaglia

May 15, 2012

On April 22nd, 2012 the world lost another true original. Patricia Tartaglia, or Big Patsy as she was known by her friends, brought her own unique brand of wisdom and wit to the organizations she supported and the lives she touched during her 95 years on earth.

Patsy’s story began in Los Angeles in 1917. She was born on March 6th and spent much of her youth developing her passion for literature and the arts. She was an accomplished student and after being courted by several universities, she eventually graduated from the University of Southern California with Honors.

Following graduation, Patsy’s command of English and French helped land her a teaching position at a private military academy for young boys. There, she met Mario Tartaglia, a music instructor, and during their first year as co-workers they developed a warm love for each other.

With WWII in full swing, they both knew that Mario would eventually be called into duty. So they decided to make their relationship official and eloped in Las Vegas. Within a year, Patsy gave birth to their first child Michael and soon Mario was sent overseas as a Captain in the Army.

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Patsy managed to turn a sad situation into something sweet when she took refuge with her mother in a tiny coastal town called Laguna Beach. After Mario returned from the war, they figured that a family life in Laguna was ripe for their future. Their second child, a daughter also named Patsy, was born in 1950. And as Patsy’s family blossomed, so did her interest in the community.

In the early 1950s, she helped found the Assistance League and became the organization’s first president. A plaque honoring Patsy still decorates their headquarters on Glenneyre Street. Along with her philanthropic efforts, Patsy and her husband started a small mail order business out of their garage that supplied gifts for the holidays to people all over California. Their tiny endeavor eventually spawned a successful importing business, which distributed classic souvenirs to Disneyland and other major Southland theme parks.

With more financial freedom, Patsy increased her involvement with the local art scene and studied extensively about Modern Art. She served on the Board of Trustees at the Laguna Art Museum and became a dedicated collector of local artists for many years. Her patronage also extended to the Laguna Playhouse, The Boys and Girls Club, and numerous other charities throughout her life.

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