Patrice Campbell remembers being amazed by lifelong connections among Saint Ignatius High School alumni. That feeling dates back to hearing the roar of Wildcat fans at the famed West Senate football games and blossomed into a deeper appreciation when Jesuits and alumni of the class of 1960 flew in from around the country to attend her husband Pat’s wake and funeral after he died suddenly in August 2000. “That kind of support was something I had never experienced as a graduate of John Marshall High School and I was jealous – in a good way,” reflects Patrice.
Growing up in West Park as the daughter of devoted Catholic parents and restaurant owners, Patrice learned early on the guiding principle of “always do your best.” After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Education at Baldwin-Wallace College, she worked for the Cleveland Board of Education for 28 years – first as a teacher in English as a Second Language (ESL), followed by numerous administrative roles in Community Relations, Special Projects, assistant to the superintendent and Director of Building Operations. As a Cleveland public school graduate, she found these to be meaningful roles and always brought the sensitivity of a teacher to her work.
Retiring in 1998, Patrice was soon to begin her unexpected “second career.” Her husband Pat owned Lakewood Healthcare Center (now EnnisCourt), where her own father was a resident due to Parkinson’s and dementia. Patrice came to realize how essential it was to help not only her father make this transition but also her mother, a devoted and ever-present caregiver. “I explained to my husband that my mother would want to be there a lot, not because she thinks they aren’t doing their job. It’s what she needs to do to maintain connection with my father. He assured me it wouldn’t be a problem. But it was. The staff felt my mom didn’t trust them.” That experience planted seeds for a future Patrice did not see coming.
As trends in caring for the elderly began to change, the Campbells invested in major renovation of the Enniscourt skilled nursing facility and new construction of EnnisCourt assisted living facility. With work barely half completed in late 1999, the contractor went out of business. The stress of refinancing and delays was enormous on a man who always paid his bills on time and was now facing liens on his property. “Pat was a very principled and proud person. His word was his bond,” recalls Patrice. After hiring a new contractor, the work was completed, and residents began moving in during April 2000. But on August 20, 2000, Patrice and Pat were at home on a Sunday afternoon when he suddenly collapsed and died in the middle of their conversation.
In a time of tragedy, Patrice was left to face a major decision – whether to sell or keep EnnisCourt and try to run it herself. She had helped Pat with the operations but knew nothing about the finances. “I made the decision to keep it. This was his life’s work and I wanted to continue on in his memory,” she recalls. Patrice eventually put her own stamp on EnnisCourt, creating beauty throughout the campus but more importantly, honoring the end-of-life experience for families.
Uncompromising in her steadfast belief that person-centered resident care is the foundation on which EnnisCourt is built, she sees her work of caring for God's aging and sick people as both a vocation and avocation. “EnnisCourt is home to people and their families, whether a short or long time,” says Patrice. “You are only born once and die once – and the majority of people are here for the end of their life. Part of living is dying. When a loved one’s journey has ended, I want families to feel they chose not just a good place, but the best place – where our family will always be a part of theirs. We’ve created a place where residents are truly at home in a sanctuary of peace, where dignity, choice and individuality are sacred.”
Patrice has maintained a very Catholic character to EnnisCourt, with a daily rosary and Mass as well as a popular Saturday Mass at 4 pm. Many residents are Irish and Catholic, but the doors are open to all. A 24/7 visiting policy encourages family involvement, with special emphasis on dining together. Many Saint Ignatius alumni and members of their families have been residents. The school’s former chaplain, Fr. Frank Canfield, SJ, was there for rehab and still holds a special place in Patrice’s heart. She also has a tradition of hiring Saint Ignatius students and says with a laugh, “I should get the record for buying the most raffle tickets!”
For the past ten years, Patrice has shown her support for the school by treating friends and employees to the annual Saint Ignatius Christmas Concert, a time-honored tradition with the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus that serves as a fundraiser for tuition assistance. She hosts up to 50 guests and enjoys gathering with them in the Severance Hall restaurant.
As she reflects on the Latin magis, meaning “more or greater,” Patrice says, “I always did more, always going above and beyond. That’s how I live my life and what I hope for from others. For me, it’s the norm, it’s what was expected by my parents.” She puts in long workdays of 12-15 hours and it’s not unusual to see her car at EnnisCourt at all times of the day or night.
Viewing her work as a ministry, she is grateful to have touched the lives of many in the Saint Ignatius community. Twice she took part in the school’s Spiritual Program for Adults (SPA) and was deeply affected. “The Ignatian spiritual exercises totally changed my life. I try to find God in all things. I look at residents who are struggling and ask myself, ‘Could that be Jesus?’ I am a woman for others.”
Patrice is deeply humbled to receive the Saint Ignatius Magis Award and describes it as “the biggest honor of my life.”
Patrice Campbell: Her Witness to Others
Our father spent his last four years and “finished the race” at EnnisCourt. His last few laps were increasingly uphill and into the wind. Patrice and her staff’s loving care on that difficult path followed the example of Veronica and Simon on Christ’s journey to the cross. That commitment to dignity and heartfelt care is the rule not the exception, and we are eternally grateful. While magis is one of the Jesuit values, Patrice and her staff are also devoted to the Jesuit value of cura personalis. Her commitment to doing the “more” for the “care of the person” is done with love and reverence. – Kevin Hinkel ‘73
Patrice made a huge impact on my life by helping me through the end of life for both my parents at EnnnisCourt. She has a place they call “the living room” that she transforms for the family to be at your loved one’s bedside. From a paschal candle at the foot of the bed to food prepared for the family and beer and wine in the fridge, she feeds the body and soul. Whether it’s priests coming in to do the anointing, people saying the rosary or going to daily Mass there, you feel God’s presence. Patrice has been touched by God to carry on this mission. She’s extraordinarily caring and loving and does everything so quietly, not for praise and accolades. She is so thoughtful, loving and spiritual – an angel walking around on earth in heels. – MaryLynne McAuliffe
My youngest daughter worked at EnnisCourt for a summer and was so impressed with what she saw. Patrice has created an environment where the elderly find everything they’d find in their own home, with her attention to detail in everything – the spiritual care, the food, the activities, even making a special deal of celebrating birthdays with the families. She inspired my daughter’s decision to get her master’s in social work and her current role with Hospice of the Western Reserve. “Magis” sums up EnnisCourt. In our society, we may keep the elderly warm and safe and take care of their medical needs, but Patrice says, “What more can we do?” – Katy Gibbons
Patrice will receive the Magis Award at the 37th Annual Saint Ignatius High School Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 5, 2021.