Remembering Pat Wand: An Immense Legacy
Our Peace Corps Museum community joins family, friends and colleagues across the globe in mourning the loss of Patricia Anne Wand. On Tuesday April 25, 2023, Pat arrived in Spain to finish walking the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route stretching from France to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. Ever the adventurer, she had been training for months and planned to walk the remaining 240 miles alone. Shortly after arriving Pat suffered from a stroke at a hostel and passed away on April 28, 2023. Her family has returned her ashes home to Bethesda, MD.
Pat’s impact on the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience cannot be overstated. She was an innovative thought-leader, an inspiring volunteer mobilizer and an unwavering champion of Peace Corps ideals. Pat became President of the Board in 2018 and led efforts to transform the Museum from a local initiative in Oregon to a national institution. As a fervent advocate for open access to knowledge and information, developing a cultural institution such as the Museum was a natural fit for her.
Pat’s expertise and contributions to the life of the Museum have been immense. Indeed, even a summary of her accomplishments wouldn’t do justice to her continued impact. Among her achievements is the development and coordination of a series of traveling exhibitions showcasing significant artifacts, telling cross-cultural stories, and fostering an appreciation of service. These works were seen by communities across the U.S. at venues including the REACH Opening Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, “Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience” at American University Museum, and “Posting Peace: Peace Corps Posters 1961-2022” at the ArtReach Gallery. In addition, she refreshed the Museum’s website, launched its collections and holding infrastructure in Washington, D.C., and initiated the Many Faces of Peace Corps Advisory Group to center inclusivity, diversity, and equity across programs. The launch of this advisory group was among Pat’s most cherished gifts to the Museum celebrating the full diversity of the Peace Corps experience.
Pat drew upon a great deal of expertise derived from her love and decades-long experience in the field of library science. Detail-oriented, well-versed in tech trends, and a polished public speaker, Pat displayed a passion for information technology that was evident in all she did. Her illustrious career in higher education included professional appointments as the University Librarian and Professor Emerita at American University and the Dean of Library and Learning Resources at Zayed University (UAE). In addition, she held library positions at the University of Oregon, Columbia University Libraries, the College of Staten Island (CUNY), and Wittenberg University. Early in her career, she even taught in secondary schools in Washington, DC and the Midwest.
In 1963, Pat began her Peace Corps journey as a volunteer in Buesaco, Narino, Colombia. There she worked as a community development and health education volunteer teaching nutrition, sewing, knitting, and public health. She developed rich ties during the Peace Corps and maintained relationships for years with the people she met there and the people of Colombia through active engagement with the Friends of Colombia group. Pat also served on Peace Corps staff in the Eastern Caribbean in 1969 and later supported the National Peace Corps Association as a Vice-Chair of the Board and a Sargent Shriver Leaders Circle member.
Pat is survived by her son, Kirk Dean Silvernail, daughter-in-law, Julia Silvernail, and grandsons Tristan Caleb and Logan Asher. She is also survived by her brothers, Jerome, Richard, and David Wand and sisters, Helen and Carolyn Eslick Donaldson as well as sisters-in-law, Dana, Sharon, and Roberta and brothers-in-law, Gene Casciato and Charles Donaldson, her former husband, Francis Silvernail, numerous nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews. She joins those who predeceased her, daughter Marjorie Lynn Silverwand, her parents, and her sisters, Ruth Wand Casciato and Dorothy Wand.
Memorial services will be held in Washington D.C. and Portland, OR. The first will be held on June 2nd at 4pm at the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation located at 6301 River Road Bethesda, MD 20817. The second memorial service will be held in the Portland, OR area mid-summer with details to follow.
In lieu of flowers, Pat’s family has asked that you consider donating in her name to the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience. For now, we are united in grief. We at the Museum are also united in memorializing Pat’s legacy by fully realizing the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience.