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Patsy J. Botti, 80, of Murrysville, passed away Saturday, December 2, 2023 at his home. He was born May 6, 1943, in Wilkinsburg, son of the late John and Nina (Bertolo) Botti. In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his son, Samuel Botti.
When you stand at a grave you see the years between life and death marked as a dash. You are left not knowing what that dash contained in the life that was lived. This obituary was lovingly written in the hopes of capturing the true sense of Patsy’s magnificent dash. Patsy taught 5th grade at Derry Area School District for more than 30 years. Most of his teaching career was spent at Grandview Elementary where he touched the lives of hundreds of students and cultivated lasting friendships with his fellow teachers. He was particularly fond of teaching science and had a fierce love of learning that went way beyond the classroom walls, including annual outings to Keystone State Park.
As for his own children and grandchildren, they were also blessed with his gift of teaching. There were many trips to Phipps Conservatory, Buhl Planetarium, Carnegie Science Center, national parks, historical destinations, and cultural arts offerings. Patsy was always curious and would seek out ways to enrich his life and the lives of his loved ones. His daughters would joke that, if need be, they could walk Phipps blindfolded, not that you’d ever want to miss out on its beauty.
For a kid who grew up in the more urban landscape of Turtlecreek, he must have yearned for more green space because in 1971 when he bought that sweet home in Sardis, he also bought 14 acres to go with it. Patsy loved to garden, ride his tractor and just be outside. He could fix almost anything, likely in part out of necessity because money was tight. While not an animal lover, he had a hard time saying “no” and thus also had a full complement of pets to go with that house in the country -dogs, cats, geese, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs, pet toads, a pet turtle, and a beloved pony for whom he built a stall, an outdoor riding ring and shelter.
He was hands down one of the hardest working people you ever met, teaching full time during the day while holding as many as two part time jobs in the evenings and weekends, all while running his kids to activities and appointments. In all the work, he never stopped having fun, always laughing, joking, and finding humor in things. Despite not being good at it, he was always singing, from nonsensical made-up songs to familiar tunes. And no matter where he went, he’d always find someone to talk to, befriend and get to know on a first named basis.
He would say the most significant days of his life were his college graduation, the birth of his children and August 18, 1992, when he went on a first date with his beloved Donna Lynn. He called her his angel and that was never truer than when his beloved son, Sam, died and these past two years as he faced many health challenges. The happy times far outweighed the sad. Theirs was such a wonderful love story. They modeled what it meant to be in a loving devoted relationship and how to do retirement. Vacations were most often spent at the beach with family and friends. The Outer Banks of North Carolina was a particularly favorite spot to beach comb, play in the waves, and explore lighthouses. In addition to beach vacations, they traveled to numerous destinations, visited volcanoes, glaciers, and national parks, went on a few cruises, took on Disney World and made a fantastic journey to Italy. There were also always trips to visit family in Virginia, Vermont, New York, Kentucky or wherever their loved ones called home.
Since his mother’s passing, Patsy’s house in Sardis became the place where family would gather around the same table that was once in his parent’s dining room. Patsy and Donna would host countless meals, rousing card and board games, Christmas gift exchanges, and created a place of love and laughter, wrapped in some proud Italian heritage. Gatherings would always include ridiculous exchanges between Patsy and his brother John and usually a rendition of the Davey Crocket theme song. And rest assured no matter what the event or activity, Patsy had his trusty 35mm camera in hand to document a lifetime of memories that his family will continue to cherish.
He was a bit crass and had a somewhat unorthodox and colorful way of imparting his wisdom. “If you are going to do it half ass, don’t do it at all” was a particular favorite as well as “no sex, no booze, no drugs” or “be selective, protective and careful.” There were several far more colorful words of wisdom most notably about intimate partner relationships that are best left to be shared in person for risk of offending the sensitive reader. Bottom line, he knew how to get his point across with love and a sprinkling of curse words. Most of all he taught his kids the lessons of love, honesty, laughter, kindness, and hard work. They continued to seek his wise counsel as they married and raised their own children.
His greatest gig was being a Pappap to his five grandchildren and one great granddaughter. When he spent time with them, he and Donna were always active, always teaching, always fun and willingly involved in their activities. Overnight outdoor camping adventures without a tent, a night at a science museum with a whole troop of girl scouts, saxophone concerts, countless trips to Pufferbellies toy store, and he was also known to volunteer at a few gymnastics meets.
He had an appreciation for the wines of the Finger Lakes region, in particular, Tug Boat Red. We think, in part, because he secretly wanted to be a tug boat captain. Although train engineer would also be at the top of the list having set up many a miniature railroad. Patsy also had a love for space and the vast universe, even applying for the ill-fated Challenger Space Shuttle mission. Now as he journeys into the heavens may he experience the joy, peace, and love of God as he joins loved ones since passed knowing he leaves a beautiful legacy.
When turning to scripture, Jeremiah 32:19 says it best for our beloved Patsy. “Great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds”
Patsy is survived by his loving companion of over 31 years, Donna Castellani; two daughters, Beth (Derek) Avey, Patricia (Daniel) Martin; five grandchildren, Amelia and Vivianna Avey, Alexis, Ethan and Samuel Martin; a great granddaughter, Leilani Martin; a brother John (Renee) Botti; a niece Alison (Bruce) Walker and two nephews Christopher (Anna) Botti and Andrew Botti as well as numerous cousins, extended family and dear friends and neighbors.
Patsy’s family would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Daniel Petro and his medical team at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center as well as the care team from Bridges Hospice – Lauren, Keirsten, Deanna and Don.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in Patsy’s memory to Phipps Conservatory (Phipps.conservatory.org/donate/tributes) or the Carnegie Science Center (carnegiemuseums.org/join-support/donate/). Visitation will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, December 10, 2023, at Hart Funeral Home, Inc., Murrysville. Funeral Services and interment will be private. For online condolences, please visit www.hartfuneralhomeinc.com.