Considered the “first lady” of Blackhawk, Pat Behring and the legacy she left behind in this community will be greatly missed.
Pat Behring passed away peacefully at her Blackhawk home at the age of 93 on June 24, 2022, surrounded by loving family members. She was born on November 5, 1928, in Chicago to Harold William (“Bud”) Riffle and Marjorie Prince. Pat grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin and would later move to Monroe, Wisconsin during high school where she met Kenneth Eugene Behring whom she married in 1949. After having three sons, they decided to move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1956 where she had two more sons, and Ken became a very successful developer and home builder. In 1979, they moved to Danville, where Ken developed our Blackhawk community and other residential projects. He later purchased the Seattle Seahawks, built the Blackhawk Museum and started the Wheelchair Foundation. Pat was always at his side and enjoyed being “along for the ride”.
Pat enthusiastically supported her husband in all of his business and philanthropic ventures. Always a gracious hostess, she frequently invited the community into her Blackhawk home for fundraising events. She joined numerous organizations to help education and the arts, and created lasting relationships with everyone she met. Her gentle nature, the twinkle in her eye and willingness to help others always left a deep impression on people. At the same time, she knew that her main job would be to raise her five sons, and family became the center of her universe. She attended all of her sons’ social and sports events, cooked their meals, always welcomed their friends into the home and, most important of all, taught them kindness and humility. Her life revolved heavily around her family, as it grew to include 10 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. A birthday, holiday or family event was never missed. Christmas Eve always took place at Grandma Pat’s house. Pat took an active interest in each family member and made them feel appreciated and special. She attended their sporting events, pageants, ceremonies, graduations and weddings. Pat always sent cards to them on special occasions (often enclosed with $5 or $10) and took each one of them separately on a “Back to School Clothes Shopping Day.” Grandma Pat always had a bright smile, a kind word, a loving heart and an attentive ear for them, and she will be deeply missed.
Pat had many interests in life like playing cards and Bingo, bowling in a league, traveling all over the world and socializing with the “Red Hats” and her many friends. Her most important interest, however, was collecting. Pat loved to go to flea markets and peruse thrift and antique stores. She began an extensive teacup and saucer collection early in life and later switched to women’s compacts, ending up with probably one of the best collections ever assembled. The Blackhawk Museum recently opened up a permanent exhibition entitled “Pat’s Compacts”. Buying cookbooks was another passion that she pursued throughout her life.
Philanthropy was another driving force in her life. In Florida, she constantly raised funds for the Museum of Art and began the Behring Teacher Awards at Pine Crest School. Years later, she would start the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Awards for National History Day. Locally, Pat supported the Veteran’s Memorial Museum, the John Muir Cancer Center, the Discovery Counseling Center and the National Geographic Speaker Series. Pat also began the Blackhawk Museum Guild and raised funds every year to support the Transportation Fund to provide free bus transportation so that students from throughout the East Bay could experience the Museum.
Internationally, Pat loved to go on wheelchair distribution trips where she provided mobility to people in Asia, Africa and Latin America. She also enjoyed helping the Children of Grace program.
Pat was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Bill, her oldest son Michael and her husband. She is survived by her four sons Tom (Malissa), David (May), Jeff (Jane), Scott (Jeanna) and her ten grandchildren Renee (Nate), John (Melissa), Colin (Elizabeth), Jessica, Brandon (Tatyana), Patrick, Stephanie (Hayden), Chris, Kyle a nd Elizabeth ( Dominic). P at is also s urvived by seven g reat-grandchildren: Luke, Esther, Ethan, Theodore, Dee, Duane and Charlotte.
A Celebration of Life was held at the Blackhawk Museum on July 25th. If you would like to help honor Pat’s passing, the family ask that you honor her memory by supporting the Blackhawk Museum, the Wheelchair Foundation or a charity of your choice.
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By Megan Scott and the Behring Family
Photos courtesy of the Behring Family