Patricia Bunce, a resident of Cosdrew Lane in East Hampton for many years, died at home in Lady Lake, Fla., on Nov. 7, “comforted by family after a brave battle with cancer,” her family wrote.
She was born Patricia A. Needham on March 30, 1936, in Queens to Arthur Needham and the former Johanna Tolis, and met her future husband, Albert J. Bunce, on a blind date. The two were married for 61 years and had five children: a daughter, Robin, and four sons, Michael, Kevin, Keith, and Bruce.
The family moved to East Hampton in 1967. It was at home here that Mrs. Bunce, known as Pat, met her close friend Mary Humphreys of East Hampton, whose husband, Ron, had first made the Bunce family’s acquaintance. “Mary recalls her husband, Ron, coming home one day telling her that she ‘had to meet this family,’ ” Mrs. Bunce’s family wrote. “Mary fondly recalls arriving at the Bunce residence seeing ‘boys running all over the place’ and only one daughter, Robin, amidst the organized chaos. It was the start of a friendship that would last over four decades.”
“If there were any words to describe how Pat touched so many lives and why she had so many friends from all walks of life, it was due to her unique and special ability of accepting people for who they were,” Mrs. Humphreys said in a tribute written by her friend’s family.
When her children were old enough, Mrs. Bunce went to work for the East Hampton School District, where she stayed for over 13 years, first at the middle school and later at the high school. She was secretary to William Keck at the high school, then the assistant principal. During that time she was also the bookkeeper for the family-owned construction business, Al Bunce and Sons. Upon her retirement from the school, she became a partner in the family’s former water and coffee distributing business, Long Island Coffee Co.
She and her husband moved to Florida in 2006, “where the lure of warmer weather, a smaller, more manageable home, and peaceful retirement awaited.”
Her daughter-in-law Meg Bunce of East Hampton described her as “a fiercely loyal and unconditionally loving mother, mother-in-law, Nana to her grandchildren, and friend, all in one.”
“It is impossible to sum up what she’s meant to us, or to those whose lives she has been part of in so many ways. She was someone who enjoyed life and everyone in her life. Raising five children, she rolled with the punches, to say the least . . . and never missed a beat,” Meg Bunce wrote.
Her daughter, Robin Sheperd, who left North Carolina to help care for her mother for the duration of her illness, said her mother’s support and love made her “the daughter, mother, and sister that I am today.”
In addition to her husband and Ms. Sheperd, who lives in East Quogue and North Carolina, Mrs. Bunce is also survived by her sons Michael Bunce Sr. of Water Mill, Kevin Bunce Sr. of East Hampton, and Keith Bunce of East Hampton and North Carolina, and by eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She leaves a brother, James Needham of Farmingdale, and many nieces and nephews.
A son, Bruce Bunce, died in June. Her older brother, John Needham, also died before her.
A private service for family and friends prior to cremation was held at her house in Lady Lake on Nov. 10, officiated by the Rev. Charlie Rumpel of the Weirsdale Presbyterian Church in Weirsdale, Fla. A memorial service for both Mrs. Bunce and Bruce Bunce will be held in East Hampton next year.