Pat Putnam is leaving Orange, but her legacy remains
When she became a charter member of the Orange Community Action Association, neither Pat Putnam nor the Orange community knew what a great impact this lady would have on the lives of so many.
“There was beginning to be racial unrest and incidents in other cities and we did not want to see this happen in Orange. The OCAA was formed in the 1960’s and we worked to keep harmony in Orange. I think we were successful,” said Putnam.
The OCAA was made up of clergy from the black and white communities and citizens of both races. They worked in several areas to unite the races.
“I saw this lady in my neighborhood on Mill Street taking lunches to one of my neighbors and I thought, ‘What is she doing here?’ I found out who she was, met her, and Pat and I became charter members of the OCAA. We are the only two charter members left,” said Essie Bellfield, former Orange mayor.
In 1973, looking for another area of service to Orange citizens, the OCAA was able to use the old Goldfine building to establish what would become the Thrift and Gift Shop.
Putnam took on another challenge, became a charter member, director, and has stayed with the Thrift and Gift Shop for the 36 years of its existence.
“We were looking for an area to be of service to the senior citizens and disabled persons and came up with the idea to give them an outlet to sell their craft items and other handcrafts. It has worked well over the years,” said Putnam.
“We started in the old Goldfine building on Fifth Street and there were a lot of old things left in that building. Everything from sheet music to buttons, even some old furniture. We priced and sold that stuff, and by the time we purchased the building across the street we had enough to sell to be able to pay off that building,” said Bobbie Williams.
Williams was a charter member of Thrift and Gift along with Putnam. As far as they can remember, they are the only two remaining charter members of the Thrift and Gift Shop.
Putnam had ability to attract volunteers to work over the “new” building. The building had formerly been the Belile’s Men’s Wear Store and took a good deal of remodeling to convert it to the Thrift and Gift Shop. They even installed a kitchen and sold lunches for a few years.
“Pat enlisted her husband and others to come and work in the evenings.
It seemed that a lot of us were DuPont families,” said Williams.
“We were in the Fifth Street building until we moved out to Salk School in 2002. The old building was a good location.
There was even a time when we had tour busses stop. Sometimes the bus drivers would get aggravated. They had problems getting the tourists to stop shopping and get back on the bus,” said Putnam.
Putnam and her husband, Glenn, met when she was employed as a Technical Librarian at Hercules Power and Glenn was a young engineer with DuPont in Wilmington, Del. They married and were sent to Orange in 1948. After being in Orange for seven years they were sent to the Victoria DuPont plant, and then came back to Orange in 1962.
Sadly, Glenn died in December, 2007.Putnam began her long career of service to Orange shortly after they returned.
In addition to her busy service career she found time to raise five children, two daughters and three sons.
She will be relocating to live in a retirement community in Boerne and be near to her daughter, Kay, who lives in nearby Canyon Lake.
On the table at the recent reception given in her honor were newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and prominent in the center of the table, the Key to the City of Orange that was presented to her this past February by Mayor Brown Claybar. The key was presented in recognition of her long service to Orange.
One of Putnam’s friends was heard to remark,”Pat is a magnet, she draws people and you just cannot say no to her.”
“Leaving is bittersweet. I am happy to be going to live near my daughter, but it is sad to leave Orange,” said Putnam.
A diminutive woman, Putnam is leaving the footsteps of a giant. Perhaps she summed her accomplishments up best when she was heard to quietly and modestly remark to Williams, “I guess we touched a lot of lives.”