Patricia Leonetti—beloved sister, aunt, colleague and friend—passed away January 2, 2021 the age of 82. Born to first-generation Italians Patrick and Antoinette Leonetti in Des Moines, Iowa, Patricia moved to Bakersfield with her family in the early 1940s. She and her younger sisters, Nancy and Toni, grew up in the Alta Vista neighborhood, and later moved to the house their father built on the corner of Country Club Drive and College Avenue. Patricia enjoyed putting on backyard revues with her sisters, swimming at Union Avenue Plunge and picnicking along the Kern River.
After graduating from East Bakersfield High School in 1955, she graduated from the Los Angeles County General Hospital nursing program in 1958 and then earned a B.S. degree at UCLA. She began her nursing career as a public health nurse in Wasco, then in 1964 she moved to New York City where she witnessed the great blackout. In 1968 she moved back to California settling in San Francisco where she worked as head nurse in the intensive care unit at San Francisco General Hospital. She traveled the world at every opportunity, visiting most every major opera house in Europe in England, France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Holland, always bringing back trinkets for her nephews and nieces to enjoy.
In the early 1970s, Patricia moved to Berkeley to join the nursing staff at Alta Bates Medical Center, where she would remain for nearly two decades. In 1990, she left nursing to devote herself to the practice of Zen Buddhism. She was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest and served as the director of the San Francisco Zen Center’s Green Gulch Farm, a retreat center in Marin County. For 10 years, she welcomed guests for spiritual retreats and taught students in the Zen tradition.
Patricia returned to Bakersfield in 2015 to be near family, but remained close to her cherished friends in the Bay Area and around the world. A devoted humanitarian, she leaves a legacy of love and service, and a lifetime of memories that her family and friends will forever hold dear. She is survived by her sister Nancy Leonetti Dunn and brother-in-law Dale Reed, nephew Patrick Dunn and his wife Raquel, nieces Jennifer Dunn and Rosie Leonetti, and great nieces and nephews Andrea, Christian, Michelle, Nicolas, Michael, Naia and Isabella.
Services will be held in the future after the threat of Covid is over.
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