Patricia Spain

Obituary of Patricia Spain


     Patricia (James) Welburn Mann Spain, 87, Longtime resident of Houghton, Chassell, and most recently a resident at The Bluffs Senior community in Houghton.  passed away peacefully on June 25th with the love of her life and devoted husband of nearly 65 years, by her side.

     Pat was born on May 8, 1930 in Washington DC.  She was raised in Arlington, VA, where her mother and grandparents had been close friends with her future husband’s mother and grandparents.  She graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington DC and attended Parson School of Design in New York City which included one year of Graduate Study in France and Italy.

     On October 3, 1952, she married her childhood friend James D. Spain at St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Arlington VA. The newlyweds resided in Richmond, VA while Jim was working on his Master’s Degree at Medical College of Virginia. After his graduation, they moved to Palo Alto California where Jim continued his studies at Stanford University.  It was in what was to become Silicon Valley where Pat developed her career in interior design and the couple welcomed their first child.  Shortly after Jim received his PhD, they moved to Houston, TX, where Jim was engaged in Cancer research at MD Anderson Hospital.  In the fall of 1956, they moved to Houghton, MI where Jim had accepted a faculty position in the Chemistry Department at Michigan Tech. 

   In the following years two daughters were added to their family, while Pat became quite active in the community. She served as president of the faculty women’s club, joined the Portage Lake Women’s Golf league, Bridge Club, was active at Trinity Episcopal Church on vestry, acting as treasurer and later was the first woman elected to the executive council of the Northern Michigan Diocese of the Episcopal Church. After getting all three children off to school, she continued her career in Interior Decorating.  Pat was a highly sought-after decorator to many fine homes in the area.  She also redesigned the dining area at Wadsworth Hall, among other Projects for Michigan Tech.  Pat had many hobbies, including knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting, and assorted Arts and Crafts. She returned to her skill of making pottery, learned years before in Palo Alto. Pat had her own studio with pottery wheel and kiln, and made pottery to sell at craft fairs in the area for many years.  "Pat’s Pots"

       Later in life, she utilized her training in accounting and tax preparation, managing the Hancock office of the UP-Tax service.

     After Jim retired from MTU, they spent one year in Ypsilanti, MI then continued on to Pendleton, SC, where they spent 25 winters and she designed a beautiful golf course home and acted as the CFO of the couple’s home business, Electronic Homework Systems, Inc. Over 16 years, they provided College and AP High school homework programs to over 750,000 students across the US. During this time, they always returned to the copper country for summers.

     The Spains were active members in the Miscowabic Club for over 50 years.

      Proceeding her in death were her Mother, Mary McLouth Mann and Father, MH Mann, two nephews Alan and Paul Ankeny and a niece Renee Ankeny and many dear friends.

      Pat was a very strong woman who bravely fought through many illnesses and injuries including Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for the last 18 years.  She will be sadly missed by her Husband, Jim, Three Children, James W (Shelley)Spain of Cleveland/Columbus, Caryn Spain of Brielle, Netherlands, and Lisa (Gary) Guertin of Chassell and Cary, NC, Sister, Margo Carey, Brother-in-Law George (Beverly) Spain, six Grandchildren, Nick (Jessica) Pearson, Andrew (Emily) Spain, Jonathan Guertin, Jeffrey Guertin, Sara Spain, and Jamie Spain. And two Great Granddaughters, Elyza and Ashlyn, Nephew Rob Spain and Niece Cindy (Vern) Kapphan.

     Friends are invited to celebrate Pat’s life at the Bluffs Senior Community Ballroom on Sunday July 2nd from 2-4pm.

      A private Interment will be at the Trinity Episcopal Church at a later date, when her family can be present.

      In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the The American Cancer Society or Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly.

     To view Pat’s obituary or to send condolences to the family please visit

     The Memorial Chapel & Plowe Funeral Homes of Houghton are assisting the family with the arrangements.