atricia Penkava née Kavaney of West Haven, loved and supported by family, died peacefully at Milford Hospital on March 19, 2022.

She’s predeceased by her husband of 56 years, Henry Richard “Hank” Penkava, who died in 2014.

She’s survived by daughters Melinda Penkava Smith of Oriental, N.C., and Priscilla McDermott of West Haven, and son William “Bill” Penkava of Tucker G.A.; sons-in-law Keith Smith and Robert McDermott, and daughter-in-law Michelle Penkava; grandchildren Brittany Figueiredo (m. Mark Figueiredo), Melissa, Christopher and Brett McDermott, Sarah and Sam Penkava; and great-grandchildren Evan, Lauren and Riley Figueiredo.

Patricia was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 14, 1933, as the only child to her parents John Edward Kavaney and Carmela Mildred Pacifico in a large extended family of Italian and Irish immigrants. In elementary school, Pat won a prize for her writing, and she carried on through her whole life a storyteller’s biting wit, flair for the dramatic, and the iron will to stand by her convictions.

She left school by grade 11 to earn money for her family as a customer service clerk for a telephone company, then later went on to earn her GED.

Pat fell in love with Hank Penkava, an engineer born to Czech immigrants who was also a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. The pair married on April 19, 1958; they moved to West Haven and raised three children. They camped around the United States and traveled through Germany, Paris, Prague, and the Alps. Their children went to West Haven Public Schools, Notre Dame High School, UCONN, SCSU, and the American University of Paris.

Hank’s family welcomed “Patty” with open arms, and over the years she sent warm clothes and care packages to their cousins in Soviet-era Czechoslovakia.

Patricia savored meals from all cultures and passed on recipes for tomato gravy, antipasto, shrimp scampi, paella, and Czech knedliky. Her kitchen’s walls were decorated with quilted blessings and wisecracks from many languages. She tended a garden, hosted family on holidays, and scoured flea markets for treasures and bargains. She crafted leprechauns and penguins from egg cartons and seashells, and a bright red Santa made from a dried starfish topped her Christmas tree.

At age 79, in a regal blue dress, Pat led a rousing rendition of the chicken dance at her granddaughter Brittany’s wedding, and she was proud to say the dress cost just $4 at a thrift store.

She did impressions, even after her hearing left her, and always talked with her hands. Family members welcomed her to school plays and church concerts from West Haven to Atlanta, G.A. She held onto Christmas cards, framed old and new photos, and clicked “like” on thousands of her grandkids’ Instagram posts.  She laughed at jokes at her own expense, and without exception, could give at least as much as she got.

A short-statured matriarch with a huge personality — Patricia will be missed and celebrated for many years in the stories and that her family shares with friends and future generations.

By her wishes, Patricia was cremated and then interred at Center Cemetery of North Haven alongside her husband Hank.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to to aid Parkinson's Research.

Pat's family will celebrate her life in a memorial service Saturday, June 18, 10am at North Haven Funeral Home, 36 Washington Ave, North Haven.

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