In Memory of Patricia Dietz

Patricia “Pat” Bettschen Dietz, age 82, formerly of Bismarck, ND, passed away Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at her home in Hudson, WI while holding the hands of her two daughters, Christine and Terri. Pat was born on March 1, 1938 in Grand Forks, ND to Burton “Burt” and Lillian (Klagos) Bettschen. She graduated from Grand Forks Central High School in 1956 and went on to attend the University of North Dakota where she received a degree in social work and a Masters in speech and drama. On June 6, 1964, she married Gary Barko and they later divorced. They had a daughter, Christine. On November 26, 1971, Pat married Ron Dietz and they had a daughter, Teresa (Terri).

Pat began her teaching career in Lake Park, MN and taught high school English, speech, and drama in various school districts for the next ten years. She then spent time as a television copywriter and also owned and operated a women’s consignment store, Sophisticated Lady, in Bismarck, ND. Missing the classroom, Pat returned to teaching and taught at Bismarck State College, University of Mary, and Century High School in Bismarck, ND. Pat made a lasting impact on her students and was still in contact with several of them even in recent years. She was known as a tough, outspoken teacher who instilled a love of English and theater in her students. Pat was a stickler for grammar, and she would likely take a red pen to this very obituary and make corrections. She was extremely proud of starting Friends of the Fine Arts (FOFA) for high school students in Bismarck. FOFA helped students develop an appreciation of the arts by attending performances and going to museums. The highlight for Pat and the students were the trips they took to Minneapolis together. Always a teacher at heart, in 2019 she published a teacher’s guide entitled “An Evening with the Bard”- a classroom and production schedule for teaching Shakespeare in a hands-on format.

Pat was involved in theater from a young age and often spoke of the wonderful times she had on stage. From sixth grade until her last stage performance in 2009, she performed in over forty live theater productions. Pat was a talented pianist and singer and most recently a member of the First Presbyterian Church choir in Hudson and involved in Hudson’s River City Chorale since its inception.

Pat was truly one of a kind and sometimes the only way to describe her was by simply saying, “she’s just Pat!” She was the life of the party, a great dancer, and loved to dress for the occasion, often matching her glasses and nail polish to her outfit. Pat was never one to hold back her opinion on anything, especially regarding politics and her Minnesota Vikings, but was still willing to entertain differing viewpoints from those she respected and loved (as long as it wasn’t about Aaron Rodgers.) She loved her family deeply; her daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were a source of constant joy and she took pride in telling others about their lives and accomplishments. She was a true dog lover and spoiled her sweet Joy and even her many grand dogs.

She is survived by her daughter, Christine (Kelsey) Damron of Topeka, KS; daughter, Terri (Terry) Marquardt of Rogers, AR; eleven grandchildren: Megan (Andrew) Kirby, Jonah Graf, Hannah McGahey, Rachel Graf, Joshua Graf, Elisabeth Graf, Gabriel Graf, Katherine Marquardt, Olivia Marquardt, Sophia Marquardt, Isabella Marquardt, and eight great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ron, of 36 years; her father and mother Burt and Lillian; her “special person,” Lloyd Grandprey; and her beloved dog, Joy.

Services entrusted to the O’Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson, WI. Pat will be interred alongside her husband, Ron, at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan, ND. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you give a donation to a charity of your choice in Pat’s memory.

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Patricia's Tribute Wall

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    • I had the distinct privilege of acting alongside Pat in ‘Drop Dead’, a wonderful comedy at the Phipps, with many other terrific actors. Pat and I took to each other early and developed a friendship for a time after the show as well. She was a terrific, dynamic and compassionate person who listened well and offered much to the less experienced actor I was at the time. Very grateful to have known her for a while and acted next to her.

    • Back in the day, Pat and I bowled on the same team.
      Full of life was the awesome description of Pat. Lots of laughs and always shared stories of the girls & Ron. Blessings, Sharon

    • Receiving my senior year schedule and seeing my Senior English class was with Mrs. Dietz was terrifying yet I was completely absorbed into her world within a week. I have the best memories of FOFA and trips to Chanhassen. Even a very long trip to the Minneapolis Art Museum had its humorous moments. It was the check-ins after graduation that meant the most. Dinners with her and Ron and the life lessons she instilled that I still think about today as a wife and mom. Thank you for the memories, Pat or shall I say Mookie.

    • I am very fortunate to have had Pat not only as a teacher/mentor/theatre director but also as a friend. In my minds eye I can still see her walking down the halls of Century High School and I can hear her contagious laughter. She created and provided a safe haven for numerous artistic minded youths in her productions and Friends Of the Fine Arts Club. I was honored to serve as President of F.O.F.A. my senior year in High School. During that time she really took special care to mentor and encourage me as an artist and leader. She could see qualities inside of me that I didn’t know I had and she would never let me settle for mediocrity. She insisted that I rise to my full potential. I can truly say that her desire to protect and encourage artistic youths saved lives. I shutter to think how we would have survived the unkindnesses of High School without our artistic “safe zone”. She was a protective mother hen to us all, and so many of us chicks in her care forged lifelong friendships and life-lines because of her. I went on to study Theatre, Music, and Art in College and then also received my Masters Degree in Theatre from the University of North Dakota as she did. She attended my thesis production in 2010 and watched me perform. Afterwards we both embraced with tears streaming and she encouraged me again to “keep going!” My path led me to New York City where I worked as an actor Regionally, Off-Broadway, in commercials, and also as a Wardrobe/costume professional on Broadway. Pat and I stayed in contact over the years and she was ALWAYS the first to send me a message of encouragement when she saw I was flexing my artistic muscles. Pat will sincerely be missed in this world, but I am certain that she is already up there with her sleeves rolled up asking Shakespeare lots of questions and setting plans in motion to make heaven an even more fabulous and artistic place for us all. When we are lost and standing in the darkness of center stage, She will shine down on us like a spotlight from the heavens. I have included this quote because it really resonates when I think of her spirit.

      “In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night..You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me… You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure… It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh”

      -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

    • An amazing woman has left this Earth. Pat always encouraged me as an actor, and she was a big reason why I pursued theatre and developed a love of Shakespeare. Even though she was my teacher, we grew very close, and she became my family. We’ve stayed in contact these last 20 years, and the last time we spoke on the phone, she told me how proud she was of me for all I’ve done for community and children’s theatre and for the family I have. I’m sure going to miss her.

      Good Night

      Good night.

      Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night, till it be morrow.