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Published: Thursday, 5/26/2005

Excursion-boat skipper taught at Woodward

Patrice J. Byrne, 49, a Coast Guard-licensed captain who skippered Maumee River excursion boats and water taxis and a long-term substitute teacher who aimed to become a permanent special-education teacher, died Tuesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue, from complications of cancer.

Her condition was diagnosed in 2002, but she was able to begin the school year at Woodward High School, where she was a long-term special education substitute. She was two classes shy of a master's degree from Bowling Green State University.

"She was so excited last fall," said Barb Ulrich, a learning disabilities teacher at Byrnedale Junior High School. "She had gotten her [teaching] license and wanted to use it so badly."

Mrs. Byrne, of Point Place, was a substitute at Woodward about four years and at Byrnedale for more than five years before that.

"She had such enthusiasm for what she did," Mrs. Ulrich said.

Mrs. Byrne had a passion for local history and social studies, her husband, Jim, said.

"She loved to teach. She loved to watch the light bulbs come on," he said.

Her husband also is a licensed captain. He operated charter fishing boats out of Port Clinton in the early years of their marriage, and she went along. She liked being on the water and used her experience aboard the fishing boat to qualify for her Coast Guard captain's license. After passing an exam, she became Capt. Pat Byrne in 1985.

From the mid to the late 1980s, she was at the helm of the dinner excursion vessels that plied the Maumee, most notably the Arawanna II. Much of the time, a mate actually ran the boat because "she was doing a narration on the history of Toledo and the sights people would see on the river," her husband said. "She did a lot of research to perfect that."

From the late 1990s to about 2001, she worked for the firm that operates the downtown water taxi and took passengers across the Maumee between downtown and International Park.

Mrs. Byrne grew up in West Toledo and was a graduate of Start High School. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Toledo.

She liked to tend her garden of roses and perennials and looked forward to family summer vacations spent near Harrisville, Mich. She traveled the country aboard Amtrak.

"It fascinated her to be on the rails and watch the world go by," her husband said. "She was a very outgoing and a very friendly person. She had a lot of friends and made friends very easily."

She was a past president of the International Ship Masters Association, Toledo Lodge 9.

Surviving are her husband, Jim, whom she married March 23, 1978; son, Ian Byrne; daughter, Erin Byrne, and sisters Laurel Cossitt and Madonna Anderson.

The body will be in the David R. Jasin Funeral Home after 5 p.m. today. Services will be at 12:30

p.m. Saturday in St. John the Baptist Church, of which she was a member.

The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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