Patricia Ellen Foster Thonney

Patricia Ellen Foster Thonney, 58, died at home in Cayuga Heights, N.Y. early on Monday April 9, 2012, after a two-year journey with inflammatory breast cancer. She spent the Easter weekend truly surrounded by all the love of her family and friends in spirit and in the presence of her husband, daughter, son, big sister and brother-in-law, and nephews, with comfort care from Hospice.

Patricia was born in Greenfield, Ind. on June 13,1953, and was raised on the family farm two miles west of town. As a child and teenager, she was active in 4-H with projects ranging from pigs to pies.

Patricia graduated from Purdue University in 1975 and received her M.S. from Washington State University in 1977. That fall, she started as an Extension Associate in Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. Patricia used youth-development principles to prepare materials to teach children and teenagers about healthy eating. Among her projects and publications were “Food for Health: The Carbohydrate Connection;” “Alive! Food & Fitness for Life;” “Now You’re Cooking;” “Kitchen Science for Kids;” “In-Touch Science: Foods & Fabrics;” and the “Cooking up Fun” project, a youth development strategy that promotes independent food skills.

She was an active member of the First Congregational Church of Ithaca where she taught Sunday school and was clerk of the church. She was a leader of her son’s Cub Scout Troop and her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop.

After Thanksgiving 2007, Patricia cared for her parents in her home for two years and then visited her mother several times yearly in a nursing home near the family farm in Greenfield.

She was active in the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes where she helped to start the support group on living with cancer. Although she was not fond of the telephone or asking people for money, Patricia was the top individual fundraiser and her Women’s Noon Group was the top fundraising team for the 2011 Cancer Resource Center Walkathon.

Patricia was fond of poetry (especially Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley), daisies, and the color purple. The love, optimism, and good humor behind the smile she inherited from her father made her loved by all.

Patricia married Michael L. Thonney in 1979 and they have a daughter, Elizabeth of Seattle; and a son, Benjamin of Ithaca.

She is survived by her mother, Carol McElroy Foster of Greenfield; sister, Martha O’Keefe and brother-in-law Robert of Norwich, N.Y.; brother, John Foster and sister-in-law Debbie of Greenfield; special caregiver Dina Gaffney; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased in death by her father, Thomas Evans Foster, and two infant brothers.

A memorial service will be held at 2 pm on Sunday April 15, 2012, at the First Congregational Church of Ithaca.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Patricia’s memory may be made to the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes at 612 West State Street, Ithaca, NY 14850 or on-line at and to Hospicare & Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County at 172 East King Road, Ithaca, NY 14850 or on-line at Bangs Funeral Home is helping the family.