Patricia Aileen Kelly Bratches, founder of Rye School of Dance, died peacefully at her home in Rye, on May 6, 2017, surrounded by her family. She was 88.
Born on March 26, 1929, she was the daughter of William and Theo Kelly, and brought up in the Beverly Hills section of Chicago’s South Side, along with her sister Sharon. When Pat, as she was known, was 15, the family moved to Mamaroneck, N.Y.
She attended Mamaroneck High School, where she was a cheerleader and fell in love with dancing and Walter’s Hot Dogs. Her affinity for each stayed with her throughout her life.
While a student at the College of New Rochelle, from which she received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, she began to turn her passion for dance into a profession, teaching at Camp Mohawk in White Plains during summer break.
It was at Camp Mohawk that she met her future husband, Howard Bratches. Hoping to catch Pat’s eye, Howard led his young campers in an army crawl through the middle of her dance class. It made Pat laugh – which is what Howard did every day of their 62-year marriage, until his passing in 2013.
Howard and Pat wed in Larchmont on May 16, 1951, and soon began their family. Daryl came first, soon followed by Janice, Beth, Kurt, and Kyle. The family of seven settled in Rye in 1962.
Once in Rye, Pat became a big part of the community. She loved Christ’s Church, where she could be found in her favorite pew every Sunday. She was involved in the Altar Guild, the Education for Ministry, the Vestry, and Neighbors in Christ. Outside of the church, she participated in Rye Women’s Interfaith, Outreach, and the 26th TWIG. She was a member of Manursing Island Club and an avid participant in Rye Recreation’s senior exercise class.
Pat continued to dance throughout her life and touched the lives of so many students, including members of her family, through her love of dance.
She began teaching at The Steffi Nossen School in Scarsdale, eventually bringing her four daughters along with her to class. In 1975, she started the Rye School of Dance with her daughter, Daryl. Two quickly became four as Kyle and Beth joined the family business. Pat continued to teach alongside her daughters until her 60th birthday.
After she retired, Pat never missed a performance, cheering on her daughters and granddaughters at every single show. Her legacy lives on, with Rye School of Dance celebrating its 41st year.
Her creativity extended beyond the dance studio. She loved writing poetry, and you could often find her at her kitchen table with glasses around her neck and a No. 2 pencil in hand. When she wasn’t working on a poem, she was working on a crossword puzzle – and she was always simultaneously baking oatmeal cookies.
She also loved being outdoors and was an avid gardener. Her grandchildren always received fresh cut peonies for their dance performances. She could often be found exploring the Marshlands or walking and biking around town. On Block Island, where the family vacationed, Pat was always biking around the island. She was also the first to lead her grandchildren in a rock climb up the Mohegan Bluffs or out to the beach to watch a storm roll in.
“Pat was the best wife, mother, and grandmother you could ever hope for,” said her family. She was quick to laugh. She loved adventure. She loved her family, and we loved her. Life will not be the same, but we are all so happy that she is at last reunited with Howard. We know they are up there laughing.”
She will be remembered every day by her sister Sharon; her children: Daryl, Janice, Beth, Kurt, and Kyle, and their spouses Bob, Barb, David, Beth, and Mark; and her eleven grandchildren: Kate, Meggie, Brendan, Billy, Taylor, Christy, Chelsea, Wills, Kevin, Charlie, and Johnny.
A memorial service was held May 13 at Christ’s Church. Donations in Pat Bratches’ memory may be made to Christ’s Church Rye, 2 Rectory Street, Rye, NY 10580.