PATRICK "PAT" JAMES DOWLING
November 16, 2020
Patrick "Pat" James Dowling, 83, passed away peacefully at home in Colorado Springs, CO, on Monday, November 16, 2020, after a long battle with cancer. He was a nuclear physicist, a philatelist, and a Eucharistic minister for Holy Trinity Catholic Church, where he was a parishioner for almost 50 years. Pat was a family man who deeply loved his wife, siblings, children, and grandchildren. We will all miss him very much.
Born in Oklahoma City, OK in 1937, Pat was the oldest child of Mathew and Margaret (McGonigle) Dowling. He grew up in Dallas, TX, and attended Jesuit High School, where the strong education, coupled with the care and guidance of the Jesuits, played an influential role in his life. His love for the clarinet emerged during high school, and Pat's enjoyment of both classical music and scientific pursuits continued throughout his life.
Pat graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans with a degree in Theoretical Physics. He went on to Indiana University, where he became the youngest person at the time to earn a Ph.D. in Physics, writing his dissertation in the field of quantum electrodynamics. In Pat's mind, however, his greatest accomplishment was landing the love of his life, Theresa (Hirtzel), whom he married at St. Ambrose in Seymour, Indiana on September 7, 1963. Pat was very shy, but he had an outgoing friend, and when they saw three pretty co-eds leaving Mass, his friend approached them and offered that Pat could give them all a ride home. After a nice chat on the drive, Theresa took a liking to the handsome and bookish Pat, and invited him to her sorority dance. Pat, desperate to avoid dancing, said, "I was planning to ask you to go to a movie on Friday." Theresa responded, "That's great. We can go out to the movie on Friday, because the dance is on Saturday!" They've been together ever since.
Pat had a fulfilling career in physics. He worked in the defense industry, where he developed a reputation as scientist who could figure out how to make complicated projects a reality. At Science Applications International (SAIC), he worked on a variety of projects for the Navy, including the Trident Missile Program and very low frequency (VLF) communication for underwater submarines. Pat was extremely proud of his work to keep our country safe. He treasured the company and intellect of his co-workers, many of whom became lifelong friends. A heart attack in 1986 at age 49 prompted a step back from the stress, travel, and long hours of this contract-oriented work. A strong proponent of education, he continued using his science background to benefit participants at the regional Science Fair and leading science-based discussions for the Men's Group at church. Pat worked during his final year to develop a theory about the nature of dark energy, a mysterious effect causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate over time. He used rigorous analytical techniques similar to those from his dissertation to test his idea.
A life-long stamp collector, philatelic pursuits and pleasures became his full-time occupation after leaving SAIC. Pat transformed his love of collecting into a new personal business that thrived and inspired him for more than 30 years, 20th Century Classics. Together, Pat and Theresa traveled the state and country to grow the business. Characteristically, Pat devoted significant time to the organization of annual stamp shows that benefited the greater community of Colorado stamp dealers in addition to his own business. He loved talking with other collectors, and his passion for history and careful curation made him a popular and successful stamp dealer. Pat was a proud member of the American Physical Society, the American Society of Stamp Dealers, the Canal Zone Study Group, the American Philatelic Society, and the Philatelic Trader's Society.
Pat's proudest and most gratifying role was as father to his three children, John, Michael, and Kathy. Pat was always there for his children, no matter what. When they were younger, he served as Cub Scout leader, labored evenings and weekends helping them with projects, and spent countless hours in the stands cheering them on in sports. He was steadfast and remained calm through their teen years, which was a heroic accomplishment. He relinquished his spotless garage to a truck engine rebuilding project, and patiently endured his children's car accidents and tickets. He was stern, but forgave easily and nurtured gently. He lent a supportive and encouraging ear when his children became adults, and he did all he could to make sure they were able to achieve their dreams.
Pat battled esophageal cancer, gratefully acknowledging the excellent care of his doctors at Penrose-St. Francis Hospital and the Radiation Oncology Center. During treatment, Pat was thrilled to discuss the science behind the technology used in his care. Two family milestones helped sustain him during this time, the college graduation of one granddaughter in May of 2020 and the marriage of another in June. Sadly, COVID-19 restrictions postponed both celebrations. He will be with us in spirit.
Pat and his family were grateful for the excellent care of the Compassus Hospice staff in his final days. Our family was also blessed with an outpouring of kindness from many friends, family, and neighbors.
Pat is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Theresa, his children, John and Kaori (Kakinouchi) of Denver, Michael and Nicole (Fichtner) of Atlanta, and Kathy and Bob Cunha of Boston, his beloved sister Nancy (Talkington) and her late husband Lesley, his four grandchildren, Emily Dowling (and her fiancee Tyler Fabbri), Anna Dowling, and Maggie and Charlie Cunha, as well as many dear relatives. He was preceded in death by his younger brother Maurice Dowling and his parents.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a memorial mass will be planned for a future date at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Colorado Springs. Should friends desire, contributions in Pat's memory may be made to Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, or the Gazette-Telegraph Empty Stocking Fund.