Patricia Davis Klingenstein
December 3, 1929 – February 11, 2023
Our family mourns the death of Patricia Davis Klingenstein, mother, grandmother, and matriarch who died peacefully on February 11, 2023.
Born and raised in Portland Maine, she was the only child of Dr. Harry and Sadie Davis. She went to Waynflete school in Portland and then to Smith College from which she graduated in 1951.
Her first love was her family. She was the glue that held it together. She loved dearly her husband, John, to whom she was married for 66 years. They met in college and never looked back. Her four children, Tom, Nancy, Andy and Sally, daughter-in-law, Julie, 10 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren loved her as much as she did them.
Always supportive of her family’s activities, she never missed a graduation, birthday or other major life event. She was an extraordinary host who labored over seating arrangements so that every guest left feeling well cared for.
She was exceedingly kind and considerate, even to those she did not like, of which there were very few. She listened more than she talked. Her recollections were invariably about her children or grandchildren, not her. She had a much better memory of the events of her children’s past than did her children themselves.
She did the New York Times crossword puzzle in a felt pen and had it finished before her second cup of coffee.
She was always elegant. Neither her dress nor anything else about her was casual. Nothing was ever out of place. She had very high standards—from etiquette and grammar to decency and integrity.
She loved books, great literature being her favorite. In book clubs into her nineties, she had a deep appreciation for the humanities and made sure she passed this along to her children. Her love of reading and her understanding of the importance of books was reflected in her philanthropy.
She sat on many non-profit boards, among them The Klingenstein Philanthropies, the New York Public Library and the New-York Historical Society (N-YHS), always attentive and taking her responsibilities with the utmost seriousness. She is the longest running trustee at the N-YHS. In honor of her financial and volunteer support, the N-YHS’s library was named after her. Of this she was particularly proud.
She was a believer in independent school education. She joined her husband in helping to establish and then generously support the Klingenstein Center at Columbia Teachers College which has trained teachers and administrators for 40 years.
Though she spent most of her life outside of the state, she was at heart a Maine girl. Recently, she and her family honored her father, formerly chief of pediatrics at Mercy Hospital, with an anchor gift supporting the hospital’s expansion. She took particular joy in supporting small nonprofits benefiting children’s health through a grants program established by the Sadie and Harry Davis Foundation.
She was a generous benefactor of Smith, devoted to the college, advisor to several presidents and she was the co-chair of a successful capital campaign in the 1970s.
She received a number of awards for her philanthropy. These she accepted, as she accepted everything, graciously. Nothing ever went to her head. Her loving and glowing presence will never be forgotten.
A memorial service honoring Patricia Klingenstein will be held at the New-York Historical Society on March 27th, 2023 at 4 pm.