When Patricia Mearns passed Sunday, she left a mayoral legacy as a galvanizing force who brought businesses to the city and strengthened community associations. Outside of , Mearns was known as a friendly neighbor and encouraging mentor.
"She just had enormous personal and social skills," former City Councilwoman Jan Devereaux said. "I would consider Pat a mentor for really more than 20 years. I got to know her as a neighbor."
Mearns died Sunday after fighting Alzheimer's Disease. According to her obituary, she and husband Edward A. "Ted" Mearns Jr. had nine children: Edward A. "Drew" Mearns III, Susan Duquette, Leslie Quinones, Alison Benders, Geoffrey Simonson Mearns, Kathleen Mearns, Tracey Frierson, Patricia Shea and Evan Carbonell.
Mearns, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native, had 31 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was born on April 18, 1932.
She won a city council seat in 1982, and served as mayor from 1992 to 1999.
Current Shaker Heights Mayor Earl Leiken also once lived in the same neighborhood as Mearns. Though he remembers her for brining Office Max to the city, which made way for a University Hospitals facility and 900 employees, Mearns impressed Leiken with her attention to detail.
"Pat had a very charming and very open and warm personality so that when you talked with her, she always remembered you," Leiken said. "She got to know people well. She was interested in people.
"She would remember things about your family and your life outside of city hall."
Leiken was on the during the Mearns administration. She started the Shaker Family Center, an organization Leiken became president of. Meanwhile, Devereaux credits Mearns with the strategic plan the city currently operates under and with planting the seeds of the upcoming Van Aken District project.
While Mearns was campaigning to be the city's first female mayor, she found time to encourage Devereaux's bid for city council, Devereaux said.
"I always looked up to her and admired the way she handled her position of mayor, which is not an easy thing," Devereaux said. "I think she did a lot to strengthen the fabric of the community through strengthening neighborhood associations — we had nine of them — and encouraging grassroots initiatives."
Devereaux pointed to the 1981 city levy and Shaker Heights Library levy as major successes for Mearns. The Sussex Community Association also named its garden after the former mayor.
"She was really a wonderful ambassador for the city," Leiken said.
A funeral for Patricia Mearns will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Our Lady of Peace, 12601 Shaker Blvd., Cleveland.
Visitation hours will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday at Brown-Forward Funeral Service, 17022 Chagrin Blvd., Shaker Heights.
For more information, directions and a complete obituary, visit www.Brown-Forward.com or call 216-752-1200. You can also sign a guestbook on Brown-Forward's website.