Patricia Reichelsdorfer


Pat Reichelsdorfer retired from a 25-year career at St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan in 2000, but for her, nursing was a calling more than a job, one that inspired a lifetime of caring.

“My mom was so proud of being a nurse,” her daughter Greta Schanen said. “It was who she was. She always looked at life through the eyes of a nurse.”

Patricia Ann (nee Swailes) Reichelsdorfer of Sheboygan died of natural causes Saturday, Aug. 17, at Cedar Grove Gardens, where she had lived for three weeks. She was 82.
Born Aug. 1, 1937, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, to Robert and Fannie Hawley Swailes, Mrs. Reichelsdorfer was proud of her humble roots. She grew up in Tomah, Wis., where her father was an agent for the Milwaukee Railroad, before moving with her family to Watertown, Wis.

As a child, Mrs. Reichelsdorfer developed what became a lifelong passion for reading and learning, as well as a work ethic that served her well later in life as a full-time registered nurse and mother.

After graduating from Watertown High School in 1955, Mrs. Reichelsdorfer earned a three-year nursing degree at Madison General School of Nursing in 1959 and worked at the hospital until 1962.

It was in Madison where she met Peter Reichelsdorfer, a student in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s graduate engineering program who lived next door to her. The couple married on Oct. 27, 1962, in Pittsburgh.

Mrs. Reichelsdorfer put her nursing career on hold as her husband’s work took the couple to Baltimore, then Pittsburgh, before they and a family that had grown by four children settled in Sheboygan on Castle Avenue in 1969.

She began her career at St. Nicholas Hospital in 1975, and in addition to managing a busy household, she earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Mount Senario in 1991 and a specialization in wound and ostomy care in 1992.

“She loved helping patients with stomas and wounds,” her daughter Sarah Reichelsdorfer said. “She was a pioneer in her specialty in Sheboygan, and worked hard to make a difference in patients’ lives.”

When not working, Mrs. Reichelsdorfer enjoyed sailing aboard the family’s C&C 35 sailboat named Arktos. Among her many fond sailing memories was a three-week cruise in the North

Channel in the Canadian waters of Lake Huron, where the organizational skills that served her so well as a nurse proved invaluable to managing a family of six aboard a 35-foot boat.

The family also cruised regularly in Green Bay, where Horseshoe and Washington islands were favorite stops.

In addition, Mrs. Reichelsdorfer, a longtime member of the Sheboygan Yacht Club, sailed in two Chicago-to-Mackinac Island races aboard Agape in 1974 and 1975.

On the water and on land, Mrs. Reichelsdorfer was a voracious reader and a devotee of British history, which drew her to the works of Dorothy Dunnent, Celia Holland and Josephine Tey.

She and her husband shared a love of traveling, so to England and Europe they went to explore that history for themselves. Their travels in France followed in the footsteps of the artist Claude Monet.

She was an accomplished cook who was inspired by Julia Child, as much for the chef’s chutzpah as her culinary prowess. Spending a day in the kitchen preparing an elaborate holiday meal for her family was a joy for Mrs. Reichelsdorfer.

In retirement, when not doting on her grandchildren, she devoted hours to working on needlepoint tapestries, many of which she gave to relatives and friends in the form of pillows and framed works of art.

“She loved the feel of the wool thread in her fingers and the explosions of colors in her pieces,” Mrs. Schanen said.

Mrs. Reichelsdorfer is survived by her husband Peter of Sheboygan; children Greta (Bill) Schanen of Port Washington, Daniel Reichelsdorfer of Sheboygan, Sarah Reichelsdorfer of

Milwaukee and Richard (Erin Schanen) Reichelsdorfer of the Town of Belgium; grandchildren Will and Jack Schanen and Molly Reichelsdorfer; and daughter-in-law Michou Reichelsdorfer of Sheboygan.

She is further survived by her sister Barbara (Nelson) Fischer of Watertown and brother Robert Swailes of Edgewater, Fla.

A visitation will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, at Olson Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 1132 Superior Ave., Sheboygan.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to a memorial fund that has been established in Mrs. Reichelsdorfer’s name.

To leave a note for Mrs. Reichelsdorfer’s family in the funeral home’s online guest book, go to




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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