Pat Woolley was teacher, leader of Beach Cities art community

Pat Woolley Belasco was the illustrator for the award-winning “Thrift Store Bears” series of children’s books. Photo Courtesy of the family

by Claire Ery

Patricia Marie (Pat) Woolley passed away peacefully on January 5, 2024, at her home in Manhattan Beach where she lived and was active in the community for six decades.

Born Patricia Marie Peu Duvallon on February 12, 1933, in Cannes, France, Pat was raised on the French Riviera and, for a short time, on a farm near Toulouse.  The only child of a French father and an English mother, she attended a bilingual primary school in Cannes. When France was occupied during WWII, Pat came to the U.S. on one of the last ships to leave for America with her mother, English maternal grandparents, and one suitcase. Her family thought this would only be a temporary home. However, it became home base, though she made many trips back to Europe over the course of her life. 

A graduate of Canoga Park High School, Pat loved telling how she and a friend would sometimes ride their horses to school from Encino. After a year of finishing school in Switzerland, Pat studied French at the Sorbonne and art at the Académie Julian in Paris. She then went on to Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles where she excelled in illustration. 

Pat met her first husband, John Woolley, when both were young immigrants in California.

They reunited in Europe in their twenties and started life in the Old World After being married in Switzerland in 1958. They then moved to Newcastle, England, where their son Christopher was born.

With a young son and a Lakeland terrier, Pat and John then moved back to the south of France where they raised chickens. This was one of the less profitable but certainly more colorful adventures in their life together. Shortly thereafter, they welcomed a second son, Paul who was also born in Cannes. A year later, Pat and John were on the move again and decided to return to Southern California.

They settled in Manhattan Beach in 1961. Their return to the US brought them new experiences, including the ownership and management of the International House of pancakes on PCH in Hermosa Beach.   Daughter Marie (Mimi) was born in 1964.

Pat Wolley Belasco with fellow members of Hermosa Beach Historical.  George Schmeltzer, and Margy Harrell. Photo by Kevin Cody

After John tragically passed away in 1980, Pat was introduced to Jack Belasco, a former Mayor of Hermosa Beach and long-time, beloved teacher at Cal State Dominguez Hills, and Morningside High School. They married in 1982 and shared a life of van camping, globe-trotting, and philanthropy. Pat was widowed for a second time in 2006. 

Patricia was a mother, homemaker, artist, teacher, traveler, athlete, and friend of many. Pat taught art for children and adults through the Manhattan Beach Recreation Department, Pepperdine University, the South Bay Adult School, and other organizations.  She was a PTA mom who brought art into schools and was an original Manhattan Beach “Old Hometown Fair” organizer,  volunteer, and participant for many years.  She was a member of the San Pedro Art Association, the South Bay Watercolor Society, the Experimental Artists at Destination: Art and many more organizations as an artist, board member, and juror. 

In the 1970s, Pat trained to be a docent at LA County Natural History Museum and did illustrations for the resident entomologist. She was also a craft demonstrator, doing everything from Ukrainian egg decorating to wheat weaving, and a vendor at numerous arts and crafts fairs in Southern California.  

Pat was also the illustrator of the award-winning “Thrift Store Bears” series of children’s books.

Patricia was a member of the Hermosa Beach Sister City organization and, with husband Jack Belasco, was instrumental in creating the paramedics program in Loreto, Mexico.  In addition, Pat was an active member of the Hermosa Beach Women’s Club.

Pat was a beach volleyball enthusiast, an avid walker, and a Surf Festival 2-mile sand runner.

Pat Woolley Belasco at an opening for her art. Photo Courtesy of the family

She was the glue binding an international and culturally diverse family and the loving grandmother of 10 grandchildren. The house with the bright orange door was always open to welcome friends for a glass of wine and an awesome ocean view. Winter sunsets were enjoyed from her custom blue lifeguard chairs while a fibreglass Hercules statue stood guard over her garden.

She was a world traveller whose footsteps later in life often took her to the Manhattan Beach  pier, where she’d enjoy the camaraderie of early morning walkers and a cup of  Peet’s coffee. 

Pat was a devout Christian whose involvement in St. Cross Episcopal Church in Hermosa Beach spanned six decades.  She was a free spirit who lived a long, beautiful life that was generous and full of kindness. Her endless creativity reflected her enthusiasm for life. She leaves a legacy of color and beauty in her magnificent and expansive works of art.  

Patricia is survived by her three children and 10 grandchildren: Christopher Woolley of Jackson Hole WY (wife Jackie and children Amanda, Alex, Zev), Paul Woolley of Singapore (wife Lindsey and children James, Sydney, Chandra) and Marie “Mimi” Woolley of Vence, France (and children John, Mark, Paul and William). Her celebration of life will be held at St Cross Episcopal Church, 1818 Monterey Bd, Hermosa Beach on February 10, 2024, at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Pat’s name to St Cross Church.

Editor’s Note: Claire Ery is Pat Woolley’s daughterER

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