Patricia A. Peroni
Patricia Ann Peroni — beloved professor and mentor, avid cyclist and hiker, enthusiastic kayaker, skilled knitter and great friend to many — died on Dec. 24, 2019, of lung cancer.
Pat was born on Dec. 22, 1956, in Saranac Lake to George and Frances Peroni. Both her parents were World War II veterans and taught at Paul Smith’s College in forestry and culinary arts, respectively.
Pat was graduate of Saranac Lake High School, Class of 1974. Pat earned her BA in biology summa cum laude from SUNY Plattsburgh and a MLS from SUNY Albany. During her first job as a librarian at Bucknell University, she earned an MS in biology and then went on to earn a Ph.D in botany from Duke University. After a year at UNC Greensboro, she began teaching in the Biology Department at Davidson College in 1992, where she developed many courses in ecology, biostatistics, plant biology, environmental science, and introductory biology. Students especially loved her dendrology course because it involved extensive field work opportunities to learn from trees. She was also instrumental in developing and supporting Davidson’s Environmental Studies program.
Dr. Peroni’s research program focused on seeds and plants. She published studies on the wildflower white campion, honeysuckle, maple trees and ants. Getting out into the woods to see the dynamics of the natural world delighted her. She enthusiastically passed on her great appreciation for plants to her many students, colleagues and friends.
Pat particularly loved just being outdoors. She became a proficient kayaker and was an avid hiker and cyclist. She also kept a home in Galax, Virginia, so she could spend more time in the mountains. She enjoyed creative craft projects and often visited the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts, where she volunteered. Dozens of babies in and beyond Davidson have been warmed by her botanically accurate knitted hats resembling grapes, berries, lemons, tomatoes and more (complete with stems and leaves).
Pat’s civic service focused on the Davidson Lands Conservancy, where she served two terms as a board member and mentored survey projects to identify and catalogue local plants. She also willingly took on more mundane tasks involving the annual Run for the Green to support DLC’s work.
Pat was predeceased by her parents and her older brother Paul, who died at age 5, and two much-loved dogs, Hobo and Zoe. She is survived by her dear brother Luke, his wife Jules, their children Colter and Whitney, as well as Pat’s adored pets Palma and Jesse. A celebration in honor of Pat’s life will be scheduled in March. Details and recommendations for memorial donations will be shared via the James Funeral Home (Huntersville, North Carolina) in the coming days.
Many will recall Pat as funny, innately generous, smart, witty, and forgiving. Her laugh brightened our days. Her courage and clarity of purpose at the end of her life is an inspiration to the many friends who banded together to help her navigate her final months.
She is deeply mourned by family, colleagues, students and friends.