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Patty DePue

Weslaco Converted Texan Lives Life to the Fullest

by Rocio Villalobos

Patty DePue is not one to sit idle. She is up and out of Weslaco’s Snow to Sun RV Resort before dawn to make it to her 7:15 a.m. volunteer shift at Knapp Medical Center where she says she interacts with 55 people each morning she is on duty, on average. DePue came from Iowa and decided to make the Rio Grande Valley her fulltime home in 2008.

After her husband died in 2013, DePue said the RV Park’s pastor recommended she volunteer at the local hospital. While she was, at first, hesitant, she agreed to start off with one day a week and soon grew to love the work.

“It took me a couple of weeks before I realized, ‘Oh, this is really nice,’” she said. “And by that time I was doing two days a week, and before I knew it, it was four days a week.”

DePue has racked up more than 5,000 volunteer hours working at the hospital’s outpatient and information desks. She said she’s grown close to the nurses and staff, along with some frequent patients.

One of her most memorable moments volunteering came from getting to know a family of four consisting of a mother, father, and two adult children who entered the hospital a few times a month for the father’s treatment.

“We just got really acquainted, and one day the gentleman, who I had never heard speak a word of English, stood in the middle of the hallway in front of my desk and he put his hand on his heart and said, ‘I want you to know you’re right here in my heart. There’s a special place for you and there will always be.’ It’s those kinds of things that make you feel like you are making an impact and helping people.”

In addition to keeping herself busy with the hospital, DePue said her neighbors at Snow to Sun helped her get through her difficult time.

“People in the Park kept me going,” DePue said. “We’ve got a great bunch of people in the Park. It’s just a really nice place to live, and I have no desire to go anyplace else.”

Another of her favorite hobbies is gardening. She has a garden wrapped around her unit with succulents, flowers, and an orange tree. When she drives back to Iowa to spend a month during the summer, she sets up sprinklers to keep them watered.

Apart from visiting family, DePue enjoys taking road trips with her dog. One year, she drove to Iowa, Tennessee and Texas.

“I’m 85 years old now, and I try each day to live life to the fullest,” she said.

DePue went skydiving five years ago for her 80th birthday after convincing one of her neighbors to join her. Her original plan was to celebrate the milestone birthday with cake and ice cream at the Park’s clubhouse, but two of her friends who shared her birthday were not interested in that idea.

“I said, ‘If you guys don’t want to party on our birthdays, I think I’ll go skydiving. Do you want to go with me?’” said DePue, adding they did not agree to that plan, either. “The really great thing is that there are six of us in this Park who have gone skydiving. For that many people our age to go skydiving, I think, in one park is pretty good.”

DePue has skydived two times since and plans to go this year before she turns 86.

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