Patricia “Pat” Arrington Besselman, age 77, passed away peacefully in her home on April 12th, 2021. She was surrounded by her loving family in her final moments after battling cancer for six years.
Pat was born in the midst of WWII to parents, Onyx “Nickie” Galliano Arrington, of Cutoff, La., and Richard Arrington who settled in Westwego, La. Her sister, Charlotte A. Bazile, was born seven years later and now lives with her husband, Leonard, in Meraux, La.
Pat met the love of her life and late husband, James “Jim” Michael Besselman Sr., when he was a Tulane football player and team Captain. In 1963, the two married and began their family, raising their 7 children in River Ridge, La. During their 54 years together, Pat loved, respected and sometimes merely tolerated Jim. She often thanked God for His wisdom in giving her four raucous boys early, when she was young, followed by her two precious girls and the youngest son, Jose. Being the mother of the notorious “Besselman boys”, she served as Cub Scout Den Mother for over a decade and was heavily involved with and supportive of the various sports and activities her children pursued.
Pat balanced her family life and civic responsibility like a superhero. Her fearless, “I can do anything”, attitude led her to get her twin-engine pilot’s license in the 1970s. Between school drop-off and pick-up, she flew blood bank donations to hospitals in nearby cities. She is a past Chairwoman of the New Orleans Chapter of the 99s, an international organization of women pilots promoting the advancement of aviation. Her love of flowers and gardening led her to the Shady Oaks Garden Club where she developed many close friendships and served as President in 1978. She was also a long-time member and President of the Ladies Leukemia League in 1982.
In the late 1980s, Pat and Jim were encouraged to establish the Louisiana Chapter of Operation Smile, a nonprofit dedicated to providing free medical service for needy people around the world. In January of 1992, the couple began fostering a child from Colombia, who suffered from a bilateral cleft lip and palate and hypertelorism. Within a short time, an unbreakable bond was created, and Jose was adopted as the seventh and favorite Besselman child.
Pat was also very active in her church community. Her strong faith in God led her to serve as a Minister of Holy Communion to those who were unable to attend church. She is a recipient of The Order of The St. Louis Award for her outstanding service to her parish. God graced Pat with incredible strength and patience, which she applied in every facet of her life. Her family remembers Pat’s religious dedication, moral strength, intelligence, caring heart and movie-star beauty. Her warmth, kindness and love of God and family made her an inspiration to many.
Pat is preceded in death by her parents, husband and grandson, Kenney Donnelly, but her legacy lives on in her children: James “Jim-bo” Jr. (Nina), Richard (Carol), William (Connie), Stephen (Leo), Elizabeth Campbell (Syd), Patricia Besselman-Main (Ryan), Jose and women she loved as daughters: Lori, Cindy and Stacy. Pat was also blessed with 16 grandchildren: Michael, Monte, Susie, Lexy, Smith, Richard, Rebekah, William Jr., Abagail, Kathryn, Austin, Sydnie, Samantha, Stephen, Leah, and Savannah.
Services will be held on Monday, April 19th at St. Matthew the Apostle Church, 10021 Jefferson Highway in River Ridge, LA. Visitation will be from 11-12 with mass to follow at 12 noon. Burial will be at Garden of Memories Cemetery in Metairie, LA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Operation Smile at www.operationsmile.org or at 3641 Faculty Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA 23453. Online condolences may be offered at www.gardenofmemoriesmetairie.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Patricia "Pat" Arrington Besselman, please visit our floral store.