James ‘Pat’ Halligan: Oct. 18, 1945 – June 1, 2019



Dr. James “Pat” Halligan was born at the Georgetown University Hospital in Georgetown, Md., on Oct. 18, 1945, and moved around with his Navy family throughout his formative years, living in such diverse places as Alexandria, Va., San Diego, Calif., and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

After his father’s retirement, the family settled in Fullerton, Calif., where Pat graduated from Servite High School in 1964. He began his college career at the University of California at Riverside, marrying his high school sweetheart, Marcia Ann Spehar, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Fullerton on April 1, 1967, and finishing his BA at UC-R in 1968.

He moved his new family to Santa Barbara, Calif. to complete his PhD in plant ecology in 1973 at UC-Santa Barbara, after which he took a position as associate professor of plant ecology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 1976, Pat decided to make a career move, and began studying dentistry, graduating from the University of Nebraska School of Dentistry in 1979. After a year-long residency at the VA Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., Pat moved his family to beautiful Whidbey Island, Wash., where Pat practiced dentistry for 25 years.

Pat was an enthusiastic horticulturist (one of the reasons he moved to the Pacific Northwest), turning his three lots in Useless Bay Colony into a beautiful garden full of one-of-kind rhododendrons that, very often, bus-loads of flower buffs would come and tour.

He was very active in the rhododendron community for those years, contributing regularly to the National Rhododendron Society’s quarterly newsletter, and volunteering many hours at Meerkerk Gardens in Greenbank, Wash. An avid conservationist, Pat spent much of his life working to protect meaningful ecological habitats, as well. He was a true outdoorsman and had a deep appreciation for nature and ecology. He loved hiking and mountaineering, and his soul was most at peace when he was deep in nature or at the top of a mountain.

Pat died peacefully at home on the evening of June 1, leaving behind his dear brothers and sister, Jack, Bill and Francesca; his children Denisia, Victoria and Christopher; his grandson James Wyatt; and the many wonderful family, friends, and colleagues he knew and loved along his life’s journey.

Funeral for Pat is 11 a.m. Friday, June 7, at St. Hubert’s Catholic Church in Langley, Wash.

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