Nearly seven years ago, Patty Taylor stood up in Witmer Hall at Howard Training Center and married her sweetheart, William Beaber.
Sometime in the next few days, the hall will host her memorial service.
Patty, who won hearts in a 2003 Bee profile, is in the last stages of Alzheimer's disease. She was admitted to Memorial Medical Center, where she is receiving comfort care.
"As of (Thursday), all the equipment was disconnected," said Sandra Hall, Patty's longtime caretaker. On Friday, a priest from St. Joseph's Catholic Church performed the anointing of the sick ceremony, commonly referred to as last rites.
Hall cared for William, now 39, and Patty, 53, through the Home At Last program, which helps disabled people leave care homes and join new families.
Patty's brother, Ken Taylor, flew in from Oregon Thursday and has joined Hall at Patty's bedside. William has visited his wife and doctors consulted with him on the decision to offer Patty only comfort care, though Sandra said he doesn't fully grasp the gravity of the situation.
"He knows that she's very, very sick," Hall said of William. "We made very clear to him that she's probably not going to get better. ... She would want us to protect him."
Patty has been in long-term care for nearly a year, after her condition deteriorated to the point Hall couldn't care for her anymore. But they weren't split up so easily — Hall secured a job as an activities assistant at Acacia Parking Nursing and Rehab Center, where Patty lived.
"Patty and I were only separated for five days," Hall said. "Acacia has been very kind to both Patty and me."
Husband keeps faith
William, who still lives with Hall and her husband, remains devoted to his wife though he hasn't seen her in a while.
"He's had a couple of girls like him, but he'd flash his wedding ring and tell them he's married," Hall said.
Patty stopped recognizing William and Hall during the past year, though she seemed calmer with Hall than with other Acacia employees.
"In the end, I have had a friendship with this woman that most people will never get," Hall said, starting to cry. "I will never have this again. I feel very excited to be here with her. I promised her I would never leave her and in the end I didn't."
Ken Taylor said through the Howard Training Center, Home At Last, and Hall's care, his sister had opportunities she'd never have had otherwise.
"She's had such a full life because of that," Taylor said. "She was a Special Olympian. A fashionista. And the longest employee at the Howard Training Center. She was a pioneer."
And after Bee staff writer Ty Phillips and photographer Joan Barnett Lee profiled William and Patty in 2003, the couple often got stopped by people who saw their story.
"I heard that they were just celebrities around town," Taylor said. "This community has been great."
Patty reveled in the attention.
"It's hard to lose someone as vivacious and memorable as our Miss Patty," Hall said. "Patty lived the life of a star for the last six years. Her story affected so many people, maybe they would want to know that their kindness was very valuable to her."
Originally not expected to live beyond a few months, Patty Taylor managed to defy the odds and achieve many of her biggest dreams. She had a job. She went to Hawaii. And she fell in love and got married.
"She's not been able to wear her wedding rings," said Hall. "I've been wearing them for her. I kiss them very day, because she kissed them every day.
"We just put them back on her. She'd like that."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.