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In Memoriam – Patrick Dwyer

Patrick Arno Dwyer, SJP Teacher

Father of Kieran ’02, Emerson ’05 , Liam ’11

An outdoor service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, November 8, 2020 at St. John the Baptist Parish Center in Collegeville, MN. There will be a visitation from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. prior to the service.

Patrick Arno Dwyer, born February 7, 1957, died November 4, 2020 in the house he and his wife and partner, Jeanne Lorraine Cofell, built with their own hands and in which they raised three sons, in Collegeville, MN. Patrick and Jeanne were married on the warm afternoon of August — in Stella Maris chapel on the shores of Lake Sagatagan. It was by those peaceful waters where Patrick and Jeanne first met when they were students at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict while Patrick was working as a lifeguard. Patrick grew up swimming in the quarries around St. Cloud, MN where he was born to John and Rita Dwyer, the sixth of seven children. Patrick loved art and the outdoors from an early age and was active in the Boy Scouts where he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and was a member of the Order of the Arrow. Patrick studied studio art at St. John’s and expanded his creative endeavors in many different directions, including log cabin building, painting and elaborate sand castles at Lake Sagatagan. Patrick’s love of the outdoors inspired a deep commitment to both the environment and his community. After graduating from St. John’s in 1979, Patrick moved to Maine as a member of the Vista Volunteers, working with communities to build sustainable and self-supporting energy alternatives and where Jeanne was learning organic farming practices.

Patrick and Jeanne continued to be involved in organic agriculture and sustainability initiatives after returning to Minnesota. In 1989, Patrick and Jeanne purchased twenty acres of land outside of St. John’s where they would spend the next thirty years building their home, planting apple trees, teaching first their sons, and later, their grandchildren how to garden, and restoring the land to native prairie. In 2000 Patrick joined the faculty of St. John’s Preparatory School as an art instructor. He was an integral part of the Prep community for two decades, as a teacher and parent. He was a renaissance man in every sense of the term. An art teacher, nature lover, chef and champion soup-maker, environmentalist, musician and performer, and scholar of the world, he was endlessly curious and encouraged his students to look at the world imaginatively and with a sense of wonder. Patrick brought joy to his work and spread joy to his students and community. He generously offered his talents and wisdom in many, many ways big and small.

The truth that art and kindness can change the world was, for Patrick, the fertile soil in which he nurtured the warmth and love by which his family will remember him. He had an energy and an optimism that he shared with everyone around him. His children will always remember how Papa found beauty in every sunset, how he could split and stack a cord of firewood in a single afternoon and how he taught them to dip a canoe paddle silently into the water, and the importance of spending time with one another on projects and exploring the world. His grandchildren will remember him as Grandpa Pat or Papa Pat, who shared with them their boundless playfulness and joy in puppet shows and art projects. To his siblings and his friends, Pat could always be counted on for a cup of coffee and a song on his mandolin. Patrick loved being around people, talking with people and, above all, he loved helping people. Patrick was a kind man and a good man; he will be missed.

Patrick is survived by his wife Jeanne Cofell, son Kieran and daughter-in-law Natalie, grandchildren Áine and Jayber, son Emerson and daughter-in-law Brittany, grandchildren Charlotte, Virginia, Eleanora and Rosalind, son Liam and daughter-in-law Allison, siblings Paul, Peter, Jim, Tom and Mary, mother-in-law Lorraine Cofell and in-laws Paul, Mary, Ann, Patricia, John and David.

Patrick was preceded in death by parents John Dwyer and Rita Schulte Dwyer, father-in-law William Cofell, brother John Dwyer, and granddaughter Lillian Cofell-Dwyer, with whom he is reunited with in God’s love.