Patricia Liberatore, volunteer art tutor and fundraiser, dies at 67

July 20, 2012

Patricia Liberatore, a volunteer art tutor, charity fundraiser and sports enthusiast who worked as a Washington public affairs specialist for about 15 years, died of metastatic breast cancer July 15 at her home in the District. She was 67.

The death was confirmed by her husband, Rob Liberatore.

For about five years before cancer impaired her mobility and energy, Mrs. Liberatore made regular Tuesday visits to the J.O. Wilson Elementary School in Northeast Washington, where she helped out and tutored in the art classes. She was known affectionately as “Ms. Libby.”

She also directed the annual Azalea Festival at the Landon School in Bethesda. She raised money for the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, which provides mental health counseling for people who have experienced trauma or the death of a close friend or relative. She also raised money for the Humane Society.

In the 1980s and 1990s, she was a public affairs specialist with Francis, McGinnis & Reese political communications and with other public affairs firms.


Patty Liberatore, who died July 15 at age 67, was known as a gracious and elegant hostess. (Nina Benton)

Patricia Lynn Andorn was born July 10, 1945, at Mitchel Field on Long Island, N.Y., the military air base where her father was stationed. She grew up in Indianapolis and attended Miami University in Ohio and Butler University in Indianapolis. She moved to the Washington area in the 1970s.

“Patty was one of those people who juggled about 10 balls at a time without ever breaking a sweat, and always looking elegant, even in blue jeans,” said a friend, NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg.

Another friend, Nina Benton, described Mrs. Liberatore as a “sports nut.” She was known as a gracious and elegant hostess who set a sumptuous table, but when she gave Super Bowl parties, it was only to watch the football game, not to schmooze with friends.

Guests crossing in front of the television or talking during a critical play did so at their own peril.

“If you just want to talk, there are lots of other rooms in the house,” she was likely to say. “Go there.”

Her first marriage, to Terry Straub, ended in divorce.

Survivors include her husband of 21 years, Robert Liberatore of Washington; two sons from her first marriage, David Straub and Patrick Straub, both of New York; her mother, Edyth Andorn of Chevy Chase; and two sisters, Nena Mass of Chicago and Anita Gaeta of Olney.

Six years ago, Mrs. Liberatore was diagnosed with breast cancer, which subsequently spread throughout her body. At the beginning of 2012, as she became gravely ill, she set for herself one goal: to attend the wedding of her son David.

On July 7, her son Patrick carried her downstairs from her bedroom to the ground level of their home, where she was helped into a wheelchair. She sat in the front row during the nuptials in the garden, where years earlier she had grown white azaleas and hydrangeas. Eight days later, she died.