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November 20, 2013

Patricia A. Bunce, 77


Patricia Bunce, former long-time resident of Cosdrew Lane in East Hampton, passed away peacefully at home in Lady Lake, Florida, comforted by family on November 7, after a brave battle with cancer.

Born Patricia A. Needham on March 30, 1936 in Queens, NY, she eventually met Albert J. Bunce, by whom she is survived, on a blind date. That blind date resulted in a 61-year marriage. Together they had five children, Robin Sheperd (Donny Sr.) of East Quogue and North Carolina, Michael Sr. (Jeannie) of Water Mill, Kevin Sr. (Meg) of East Hampton and Keith (Lynne) of East Hampton and North Carolina.

A son, Bruce, predeceased her in June. She is also survived by a brother, James Needham (Linda) of Farmingdale and was predeceased by an older brother, John.

Patricia was blessed with eight grandchildren: John, Amy, Michael Jr. (and fiancée, Emily Ward), Christopher, Robert, Kevin Jr., Georgia, Donny Jr. and two great-grandchildren, Jack and Steve, and many nieces, nephews and friends.

When they moved to East Hampton in 1967, it was at home with her husband and their five children where "Pat," as she was known to all, first met her dear friend Mary Humphreys, of East Hampton. Mary recalls her husband, Ron, coming home one day telling her that she "had to meet this family" he had recently met.

Mary fondly recalls arriving at the Bunce residence seeing "boys running all over the place" and only daughter, Robin, amidst the organized chaos. It was the start of a friendship that would last over four decades. Mrs. Humphreys added, "If there were any words to describe how Pat touched so many lives and why she had so many friends from all walks of life, it was due to her unique and special ability of accepting people for whom they were. She was a very special person and friend."

Daughter Robin, who left North Carolina to help care for her mother for the duration of her illness, attributes the love and support she was given throughout her life to having made her, "the daughter, mother and sister" that she is today.

When her children were old enough, Pat went to work for the East Hampton School District where she stayed for over 13 years, starting at the Middle School and eventually moving to the High School, where she served as secretary to then- assistant principal William Keck. During that time she was also bookkeeper for her family-owned construction business, Al Bunce and Sons, Inc.

Upon her retirement from the school, she partnered in the family's former water and coffee distributing business, Long Island Coffee Co., Inc. She and her husband relocated to Florida in 2006 where the lure of warmer weather, a smaller, more manageable home, and peaceful retirement awaited. There she made new friends to add to the many she kept in touch with in East Hampton.

"A fiercely loyal and unconditionally loving mother, mother-in-law, 'Nana' to her grandchildren, and friend, all-in-one," recalls daughter-in-law, Meg.

"It is impossible to sum up what she's meant to us, or to those whose lives she has been part of in so many ways. She was someone who enjoyed life and everyone in her life. Raising five children, she rolled with the punches to say the least . . . and never missed a beat."

A private service prior to cremation was held at her home with family and friends on Sunday, Nov. 10, officiated by Pastor Charlie Rumpel of the Weirsdale Presbyterian Church, Weirsdale, Fla. A memorial service for both Pat and son Bruce will be held together in East Hampton in 2014.

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