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Patricia (Noonan) JukovskyDecember 22, 1947 ~ November 30, 2017 (age 69)
Patricia Noonan Jukovsky, age 69, of Cambridge, Mass., died after a long bout with cancer on November 30, 2017. Pat was born on December 22, 1947, in Beekmantown, New York, and was raised by her late parents, Daniel P. and Virginia A. Noonan, on a dairy farm in the North Country, close to the Quebec border, along with six siblings. She remembered it as an idyllic time, during which she milked cows, jumped from haylofts, was a member of 4-H, and read a lot. She recalled winning a cow-calling contest in her teens at the Clinton County Fair and would demonstrate this talent when asked. (Pat would fondly return to this period in many of the short stories she later wrote.) While on the farm, she read Kerouac, Ginsberg, Philip Roth, and the iconoclastic Realist magazine, and realized her future was in the city. After a year at Plattsburgh State University, during which she participated in anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and teach-ins, Pat moved to New York City in 1967. She resumed her studies at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, while working days in a cuckoo-clock factory. Shortly afterward, she met her lifetime companion, Martin Jukovsky; they married in 1969, and their relationship would last 50 years.
Along with Marty, Pat became politically active during the turbulent period of the late 1960s and 1970s. She became a member of the Workers League, a Trotskyist organization, and became known for her organizational ability and strong oratorical style. One comrade from that time, looking back, recalled Pat as an inspiration and said, “From the time I met you, I was in awe at your tremendous dedication.” Though she later became inactive, she never stopped believing in the necessity of a worldwide socialist revolution.
In 1971, she and Marty moved to Cambridge, Mass. Pat entered the printing trades and became a typesetter. She worked in several typographic shops and was for a time shop steward in her local of the International Typographical Union. Many of her later short stories are about her days and nights (she usually worked midnight to 8 a.m.) in various print shops. As in all her fiction, she had a keen talent for capturing character and dialogue, especially of working people. Unfortunately, her stories never saw print because Pat would continually revise (there were usually at least two-dozen versions) and never felt they were ready for publication. Her survivors intend to remedy this with a collection of her fiction in the future.
In the early 1990s, the advent of desktop publishing wiped out the typesetting industry and Pat’s job as well. She went on to a 19-year career as a proofreader and then web designer at the Massachusetts Medical Society in Waltham, Mass. When she retired in 2010, she switched gears and went on to teach English as an adjunct professor at Middlesex Community College in Lowell. Pat’s rapport with the students, mainly immigrants and the children of immigrants, was immediate. Her style of teaching – her eagerness to relate the readings to students’ lives and concerns, her willingness to adjust rules to a student’s circumstances, and her ability to not only speak at length but to listen carefully – won the confidence of students and, she hoped, helped change their lives. Pat felt that this was her calling and regretted not doing this years earlier. When she was forced by her illness to stop teaching in 2015, she kept marking papers in her hospital bed until the time of her operation.
The Jukovskys’ purple house in Cambridge, which they moved into in 1998, became a gathering place and refuge for their daughters’ classmates and friends. Pat was famous among them for her pizza and mac-and-cheese. On Facebook, one of the daughters’ friends said, in response to Pat’s death, “Pat opened her heart and her home to many lost, confused kids in need of a good hug over the years. Her love, her wit, her food and her calming presence helped to heal so many people. The kids of Cambridge will never, ever forget Pat Jukovsky.” Another said, “Today I am remembering the life of the woman who was like a second mom to me, Pat Jukovsky. I have so many fond memories of spending time at the Jukovskys, where Pat would dole out pizza and life advice in equal measure.” And another, “Pat said that I was as queer as a purple horse. She was one of the first adults to affirm me as a full and complete person. Never had I felt so seen by an adult in my life.”
Her days in the socialist movement made enough of an impression that her comrades remember her decades later. “My clearest memories of her are when I was 12 or 13, until I was perhaps 16. She was so amazing. She was like my mother (and unlike me) in that, the more angry she got, the clearer her ideas would get. I remember her laugh, and I remember how she would plant herself in front of a political opponent like she'd draw her strength from the earth, and deliver a tongue-lashing that would leave scars.” Another old comrade said, “I just learned that Pat is gone. She was such a force of life that it is hard to comprehend. She had an immense impact upon me as a new recruit to the Trotskyist movement in terms of what it meant to be a revolutionary fighter and to derive joy from struggle. I will say that of all the comrades who left, I always missed Pat the most, and there were more than a few times when I thought, ‘I wish she was here.’”
At Pat’s burial, on December 5 in Cambridge Cemetery, many of the seventy who attended spoke movingly at graveside about how she had affected, and in some cases changed, their lives. One friend recounted how Pat had driven to Massachusetts General Hospital in the middle of the night and “literally saved my life.” Others told how, when they were troubled, Pat offered solace and refuge.
Pat is survived by her husband Martin Jukovsky; daughters Hannah Jukovsky, Elizabeth Jukovsky, Juliet Pratt, and Caroline Madison; sons Peter Jukovsky and Michael Madison; granddaughters Niah Pratt and Nyah Madison Hill; grandson Ty Madison Hill; sisters Mary Noonan Fredette, Kay Noonan Leonard, and Genevieve Noonan; honorary daughter Jesika Clerge; and many others who considered Pat a “second mom.”
Pat was a woman of principle, a fighter, with strongly held opinions about politics, war, and social inequality. To her last days, she never wavered in her confidence in the human race. Her optimism, high spirits, intelligence, wit, and good humor made her a solid human being whose death has left a space no one else can occupy.