Born on May 18, 1942 in Washington, D.C. to Henry Smith McKann and Mary Alberta Parks McKann, she spent her early years in Bethesda, MD before the family relocated to Fredericksburg in 1945 where Smith McKann founded the General Products Company, which was a major source of jobs and economic activity in the region during the latter half of the previous century.
Patricia attended the Fredericksburg public schools, she graduated from James Monroe High School in 1960, where she excelled academically, was a star guard on the girls’ basketball team, a cheerleader, a student government officer, and homecoming queen.
Patricia attended Randolph Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, VA where she majored in French Language and Literature. She spent her junior year studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, and graduated in 1964. Patricia used her fluent French to teach in several private schools, translate news articles for a service, and she translated the work “Musique/Architecture” by the polymath Iannis Xenakis.
She matriculated at the University of California Berkeley where her graduate work was in musicology, her primary mentors being the scholars Charles Crocker and Joseph Kerman. She received her Master’s degree in 1970.
Patricia’s primary musical instrument was the piano, her first teacher was her mother, Peggy McKann who taught generations of children in the Fredericksburg community. Her primary teachers as an adult were Barbara Shearer, Karl Ulrich Schnabel and Jeanne Stark. Ms. Stark took Patricia with her to L’Ecole Font Neuve in France where she took master classes and played recitals that were well-received.
Patricia also composed, her string quartet, Terra in F, was recognized by the Conference on String Quartets and Woman Composers with an award and a performance in San Francisco in 1978. She also studied computer-generated music at Stanford University in 1981 where she produced several works.
Patricia was a fine singer with a clear, flute-like soprano voice. She was section leader and assistant conductor with the San Francisco Concert Chorale in the 1980’s.
Conducting was Patricia’s passion, she attended master classes and conducted ensembles and orchestras at North Bay in Ontario, Canada, Sand Point in Idaho with Gunther Schuller, and she went to China in 1999, conducting orchestras in Beijing and Xi’an.
Patricia served as Music Director, Organist, and Chorus Master at Baptist and Methodist congregations in the Oakland, CA area. Her presence increased attendance at those churches.
She was Regional Director for Music on the Move, a company that supplied music instruction and services to private schools in and around the Bay Area.
She became the second Music Director of the Oakland Chamber Orchestra, founded by Carl O. Bangs. She presented classics and new works by women like Joan Tower and Chen Yi to general acclaim. She also brought music to the Oakland Public Schools with performing versions of Scott Joplin’s opera “Treemonisha” and George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.”
A congenital condition with her eyes caused her to suspend her conducting activities, and in 2003 Patricia and her husband, Joseph Mancini, relocated to Fredericksburg. She was a Vice-President of the Fredericksburg Sister Cities Association, helping to arrange visits by students from Frejus, France. In 2005, for the 20th anniversary of the Sister City relationship, she was a leader of Fredericksburg adults who went to Frejus for celebrations.
In 2007, Patricia was elected as George Washington District member of the Stafford County School Board. She advocated for smaller classes, new construction, better pay and working conditions for teachers and support staff and she became a champion to reform and increase transparency of discriminatory discipline procedures especially as they concerned African-American students and other minorities.
Patricia is survived by her husband, Joseph T. Mancini of Fredericksburg; a brother, Randolph S. McKann (Suzanne) of Frederick, MD; nephews Mark McKann (Sarah) of Frederick, MD and Brian McKann (Meghan) of Poughkeepsie, NY; niece Sandra Huizar (Frank) of Selmer, TN and numerous grandnephews, grandnieces and great-grandnephews and great-grandnieces.
A celebration of life will be held Friday, November 10, 2023 at 1:00 pm at Mullins and Thompson Funeral Service, Fredericksburg Chapel, with the family receiving friends an hour prior to the service. Interment will follow in Oak Hill Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in her name to the American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/
Online condolences may be sent at www.mullinsthompsonfredericksburg.com