Patricia Jean Leas, 75, of Lansdowne, a critical-care nurse in Delaware County, died Sunday, Sept. 30, of complications from Parkinson's disease at Devon Senior Living.
Mrs. Leas, a native of Scranton's Keyser Valley, was the daughter of Henry M. and Helen O. Kowalski. She moved to Philadelphia after graduating from West Scranton High School and settled in Lansdowne, where she remained for the next 35 years.
She became a licensed practical nurse in 1982 and took further courses so that she could later qualify as a registered nurse.
She worked in the cardiac unit at Delaware County Memorial Hospital from 1982 to the mid-1990s. Before retiring in 2000, she worked as a field case manager for Aetna, a managed health-care company.
Georgianna Dunderdale, her longtime friend and colleague, said the two trained in critical-care nursing together. Mrs. Leas chose the cardiac unit at the hospital because she thrived in the intense atmosphere and opportunities to learn advanced nursing.
"You spent more time with the patients there, and you had to always keep up on things," Dunderdale said. "You had to always be learning."
Mrs. Leas was "funny, caring, nurturing," Dunderdale said. The two worked the hospital's 3-to-11 p.m. shift often.
In the 1980s, Mrs. Leas volunteered her nursing skills for six years as a paramedic for the Lansdowne Fire Company, responding to medical emergencies with the ambulance. She had a police scanner at home, and when a call came in, she drove to the firehouse and got on the medical rig. She did basic patient assessment on the way to the hospital but was not qualified to give medication or perform invasive procedures because she wasn't an EMT, Dunderdale said.
In 1988, Mrs. Leas called Dunderdale and suggested that the two join the Air Force Reserve, so they did, enlisting as first lieutenants and advancing to the rank of captain over the next decade. Mrs. Leas was assigned to McGuire Air Force Base in Burlington County.
In times of military activation, the two went to the base, where they got supplies ready for troops being deployed overseas. Within their unit, "she was in charge of mobility, I was in charge of medical readiness," Dunderdale said. Mrs. Leas was honorably discharged from the reserve force in March 2003.
Known to friends and family as "Patsy," she enjoyed cooking, gardening, carpentry, and clock and watch repair, said her niece, Linda Sabatini.
Dunderdale said that she and Mrs. Leas loved to travel. They toured the Cayman Islands, Key West, Chicago, and Europe. "She was sharp and witty," Dunderdale said. "She made things fun."
She was the wife of Barry G. Leas, with whom she celebrated 35 years of marriage. He died in May 2006. The couple had no children.
"Patsy went after what she wanted and didn't worry about others' expectations," her niece said.
In addition to her niece, she is survived by a sister, Phyllis Messett, and many nieces and nephews.
A prayer service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 2220 S. Sproul Road, Broomall, Pa, 19008. The Rev. Kenneth E. Gelzheiser will officiate. Mrs. Leas donated her body to science.