Patricia Jane (Hugg) Fite of Academy, South Dakota, passed away Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, at the age of 99 from complications of COVID-19. A celebration of her life will be held at a later date with internment at La Roche Cemetery in Academy, South Dakota. Rude’s Funeral Home in Brookings, South Dakota, is assisting the family with arrangements.
Patricia was born on Nov. 16, 1921, to John and Lillian (Baer) Hugg in Denison, Iowa. With the exception of the war years, Patricia lived her whole life in South Dakota. Growing up on her parents’ farm south of Platte, South Dakota, she became proficient at handling a team of horses at a very early age. She graduated from Platte High School in 1939 and from Southern Normal College at Springfield, South Dakota, in 1941 with a degree in teaching. Following graduation, Patricia taught for three years at a rural elementary school south of Platte. She talked often of riding her horse to school or traveling by horse-drawn sleigh in the winter.
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Patricia joined the war effort, taking a job at Bendix Aircraft in Chicago. Because of her education and mechanical abilities, she was assigned the responsibility of conducting final inspection tests on the carburetors used in the B-17 bomber. Later in life, she made many trips to the annual airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where she always enjoyed talking to the remaining pilots and crew who flew in B-17s during WWII.
They were always appreciative of those who got the bombers flying.
After the war, Patricia returned to Platte. On April 25, 1946, she married George A. Fite, who had returned from military duty in Guam where he was a member of the Army Air Force. They had three sons. Tragically, George died in 1958, leaving Patricia to raise the boys on her own, the youngest only 2 years old at the time. Never remarrying, she raised her three sons with the same passion and determination that exemplified her life. She remained on the farm she loved until age 94.
Patricia was an active participant in community affairs. She was a longtime member of the Academy United Church of Christ, a life member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a member of the Platte Heritage Club and secretary of the La Roche Cemetery for many years. In 1985, she was chosen as Miss Platte High Alumna. She loved to travel, visiting many countries and especially enjoying cruises in the Caribbean. She was an avid gardener and in her spare time wrote poetry. She had a special fondness for the cats she kept on the farm. She loved to cook and the coffee pot was always on.
Upon learning of her death, one person noted Patricia was “always the nicest person in the room.” She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Patricia is survived by her sons James (Jeri) of Prescott, Arizona, Robert (Lee Ann) of Brookings, South Dakota, and Daniel (Mary) of Platte, South Dakota; grandchildren Scott (Kathleen) Fite, of Maricopa, Arizona, Berin (Jennifer) Fite, of Phoenix, Arizona, Heather (Steve) Van Zee of Humboldt, South Dakota, and Robert (Katie) Fite, of Madison, Nebraska; great grandchildren Laurel, Janelle, Ryan, Emily, Vivian, Brody, Rory Fite, and Jetta Van Zee; as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
Patricia was preceded in death by her parents; husband George; sisters Alice (Edwin) Novak, Barbara (Robert) Bottorff, Lillian (William) Houchen; brother George Hugg; and granddaughter Holly Fite.
Condolences may be sent to the family through www.rudesfuneralhome.com.