Patricia Woods Auer
On September 20, 2023, age 70, of Queensbury, passed away at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia after a brief illness. She was surrounded by her family, who were privileged to be loved by her and humbled to have learned from her each day of her life.
Born in Peterborough, NH, as the first child of Edward and Barbara Woods, she moved with her parents and siblings to Chestertown, NY, in 1962. She was a graduate of Chestertown Central School and then earned her bachelor’s of science in nursing at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY. She paved a path into the field for her three sisters, each of whom also became nurses. During college, she worked in the summers as a nurse’s aide and licensed practical nurse at the Westmount Infirmary and Hallmark Nursing Center, but also spent time waitressing in Schroon Lake, where she met her future husband, Douglas Auer. They married in 1975 and began their life together in Connecticut, where she started her public health nursing career, holding a combination of school nurse teacher and community health roles, focusing on maternal child health and pediatrics, including providing care to elementary and middle school special education students with complex health needs. She earned a master’s degree in counseling at Fairfield University, and was also a Certified Childbirth Educator.
In 1986, Pat and Doug returned to upstate New York, settling in Queensbury, where she began a distinguished tenure that would span 32 years in leadership roles at Warren County Health Services. After 11 years as a supervising public health nurse and preventive services coordinator, she was appointed Director of Public Health in 1997. Her responsibilities included oversight of clinics, maternal child health, home care, early intervention and preschool special education services, communicable disease control, the WIC nutrition program, and health education. She steered the agency through management of countless emergencies and challenges impacting both year-round residents and tourists visiting the area, including measles, West Nile, norovirus and E. coli outbreaks, and human and animal rabies cases. In all her work, she focused on making systems and services more accessible to patients, clients, and families.
Pat also served for 15 years on the Queensbury Union Free School District Board of Education, which she led as president through many district transitions and impactful projects. She also served as an appointed member on numerous New York State health committees and tasks forces, and in a variety of board member and advisory posts for Washington Saratoga Warren Essex Hamilton BOCES, Warren County Head Start, Warren County Department of Social Services, Community Maternity Services, and the Southern Adirondack Childcare Network, among others.
Even as she dedicated herself to others through her health care career and community service work, she put her daughter and son first. She never missed their sporting events or other activities, logging many hours in the hottest indoor swimming pools and the coldest ice skating rinks to watch them compete. She honored and supported all their interests and ensured their home was a place their friends and teammates could always be welcome and comfortable. She made the work-life balance juggle look easy and set an example that remains uncommon even today. When her granddaughter, Clara, was born in 2010, she opened a whole new part of her heart to forge the most special relationship with her little “Starlet.”
Pat did not believe in the word “boss,” but she gained the respect of all that worked for and with her, modeling a calm, caring professionalism even in unexpected situations, and especially when the community’s health and safety were at risk. She always looked for the “ounce of positive,” no matter the situation. She was flexible and considerate of all points of view, but when needed, had skills of advocacy and persuasion that never failed to hit their mark, punctuating lock-tight arguments with her signature closing salvo, “Where do you disagree?”
Pat was predeceased by her parents. She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Douglas, of Queensbury, her daughter Holly and her husband David Gaulin of Haddonfield, NJ, her son Garrett, of Egg Harbor Township, NJ, her granddaughter, Clara Gaulin of Haddonfield, NJ, four siblings, Sandra Purcell (James) of Niskayuna, Katherine Serlin and Nancy Brodeur (Claude), both of Malta, and Edward (Meg) of Saratoga Springs, as well as seven nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held this fall for friends and family. Memorial contributions in her name can be made to the Southern Adirondack Childcare Network at 37 Everts Avenue
Queensbury, NY 12804 (www.saccn.org).