Special to The Standard
UXBRIDGE: In her weekly column, Zephyr/Sandford News, in the Shorelines section of this newspaper, Pat Asling recognizes many birthdays, anniversaries, achievements, awards and honours.
On December 11th at Sandford United Church, Pat was the centre of attention and recipient of an award of honour. Pat was recognized for her long-standing, stalwart support of this church in a myriad of ways. Over a number of decades, she has been a dedicated volunteer in many church activities. For all of this, Pat was honoured during the Sunday service with a recounting of her contributions, a bouquet and a plaque. The plaque, now above the doorway of the church’s boardroom, announces that the room is now officially the Pat Asling Room.
Pat’s contributions extend beyond the church, impacting Uxbridge Township and beyond. As noted by Carol Johnson, MC for the event and also secretary of the official board for the Sandford/Zephyr United Church charge, “Pat volunteers with a variety of groups and participates in many organizations. For example, she greets visitors, introduces the performers at the Foster Memorial, and helps with the Uxbridge Historical Society, especially for Heritage Days, the Genealogy group, Horticultural Society, her sorority, and the list goes on.”
Pat was born on the family farm on the 7th concession of Reach, now Medd Road, to parents Donald and Stella Asling. Pat was the oldest of three children. She attended Epsom Public School and, subsequently, Port Perry High School, where she busied herself with many activities. From high school, she went to the University of Toronto, where she studied dentistry. After graduating, she began working in 1963 as a dentist in Dr. Carl Puterbough’s dental office in Uxbridge. Later, she set up her own dental practice in the former Mellow residence on Main Street, Uxbridge. In 1973 she closed this office and began working at the St. John’s Training School.
In her early years, Pat attended Epsom United Church, where she taught Sunday School, sang in the choir and helped with special events. In 1965 Pat married and purchased a farm on Sandford Road, later building a new home on 50 acres of the original farm. That is when Pat’s dedicated service to Sandford United Church began. Again she taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and much more.
Pat’s horizons were not confined to our part of Ontario or even Canada. For almost two decades, she worked for CUSO, a Canadian international development organization, doing dental work in Jamaica and, later, Belize in Central America. Belmopan, the capital of Belize, is where Pat spent most of her time abroad and laboured amidst poverty and inequality there. “From Belize,” recalls Johnson, “Pat sent back long, detailed, and interesting letters, some of which were read out at meetings of the Uxbridge Historical Society.”
Pat developed a strong fondness for the people of Belize, and they highly respected her and valued the work she did among them.
Pat moved back to Sandford in 2007. Having made many good friends in Belize, she has returned at least twice to that country for visits. The resumption of life in Sandford enabled Pat to renew her connection to Sandford United Church. She has helped to organize special services, such as Communion and anniversary services, church dinners for fundraising, game nights, and special events to raise awareness of Indigenous issues. She has taken a lead role in the provision of aid to northern Indigenous communities, support to food banks and Christmas gifts for underprivileged children. Recently, she has served as President of the United Church Women’s group, secretary of the Church Council and a member of the board of the Sandford/Zephyr charge.
Readers of Pat’s column in The Standard know she has a huge collection of information about birthdays, marriages, and family news, including special vacations. The good or bad weather, how her garden is doing, how well the farm crops are growing, and what birds she has seen that week all are fodder for her column. Sometimes, she even includes a lovely little poem!
Pat has one son, Ivan, and two granddaughters, Sarah and Charlene. She enjoys all her nephews, nieces, and their children, keeping up to date on their activities.