Mrs. Patricia Smith Ruggiero — 1956-2019

Published 5:04 pm Friday, April 19, 2019

BRADENTON, Fla. —  Patricia Smith Ruggiero, 62, of Bradenton, Florida, departed this world for immortal rest with the Father on Friday morning, April 12, 2019, in Gainesville, Florida. She was surrounded by her family.

Patricia was born in Valley to Thomas and Joyce Smith, both now deceased. Trish married Fred F. Ruggiero Jr. of Columbus, Miss. on July 6, 1975, and they enjoyed 43 years of marriage. Along with Fred, Trish is survived by their four children: Maria (Jared Flint), Julia, Peter (Michelle), and Katherine, as well as her treasured granddaughter, Azalea Flint.

She is also survived by her brother, Gary (Karen) Smith and her mother-­in-­law, Isabel Ruggiero. Trish leaves behind in­-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, and uncounted friends, colleagues, and students, all of whom are stunned by this tremendous loss.

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Patricia impacted so many in a quiet way. She was adored and esteemed by all who had the privilege of her soft company.

Patricia was salutatorian of her 1974 Valley High School graduating class, and she went on to earn, with highest honors, a B.S. in English from Mississippi State University. She taught for four years in Memphis, Tenn. before she and Fred made their home in Bradenton, Flordia, in 1983, the year Trish began her long and remarkable career as an educator in Manatee County. For 17 years she served as a language arts teacher at W.D. Sugg Middle School; there she was named Teacher of the Year in 1998 and was one of just a few county finalists. Trish was a founding member of Electa Arcotte Lee Magnet Middle School, the first public visual and performing arts magnet school in Manatee County, where she served as department chair for the entirety of her 16 year tenure. While at Lee Middle, Trish earned her national board certification and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Education. Eager to widen her impact on and share her love of the arts with children, Patricia left Lee Middle in 2016 for Rowlett Academy; there she spent her days teaching 4th grade and her evenings designing the middle school charter with a team around her kitchen table. In 2017, Patricia and her colleagues opened Rowlett Middle Academy, a visual and performing arts charter school, and doing so was her proudest professional accomplishment.

Patricia was a voracious reader, an avid sailor, a lively pianist, and a lifelong learner. She was a loving and proud wife and mother. She wanted to be the best at her craft, and she was. She wanted to make others’ lives happier, and she did. Generous, kind, and always mindful, Patricia will live on as a model for all who knew and loved her.

Patricia’s memorial mass will be at 6 in the evening on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles Catholic Church in Bradenton. A reception will follow at the Msgr. Moretti Center.

In lieu of flowers, please join Patricia in making a difference in the lives of children by donating to The Dr. Patricia J. Ruggiero Memorial Library at Rowlett Middle Academy, 400 30th Avenue East, Bradenton, FL 34205.