Polly Anne Poor

Strafford, Vt. — Polly Anne Poor was born in Beverly, Mass. on April 15, 1952, and died at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on Monday, March 10, 2014. As a young girl in Wheeling, W.Va., Polly fell in love with horses. She learned to ride, train and compete at a neighbor’s private horse farm. When she was 14, her family moved back to the North Shore of Massachusetts where she continued to immerse herself in the equestrian world.

She went to Northeastern University and enrolled in a “co-op program” that involved cycles of three months of academics and three months of work. Her first three-month work term was spent at the Yorkshire Riding Academy in England. She spent another two years under the tutelage of the British Horse Society before finally returning to the States with a job at Huntington Farm in Strafford, Vt. For the next 12 years she managed the breeding program, trained horses and riders, and competed in the three-pronged sport of Eventing.

Polly abhorred loose ends. When she was 32, she went back to school to complete her Bachelor’s degree. That same year, she was diagnosed with right breast cancer. Her mastectomy and therapy hardly slowed her down. She said she was more concerned about falling behind in Chemistry than any of her “health issues.” Perennially fit and otherwise healthy, she mended well and continued her life of freelance horse training and travel in the US and in Europe—always circling back to Strafford.

She began yearning for a more rooted, traditional life and shifted gears to take on a graphic design and copy business in South Royalton, which she ran for another dozen years.

In 2000, Polly met the love of her life, Dan Patane, and settled for good in her own house in Strafford. Polly and Dan were married on the island of Antigua in 2004. In the same year, her life collided again with cancer. This time it was a very aggressive form of cancer in her left breast. Another mastectomy and rounds of chemotherapy left her so impressed with the care she had received, she determined that the time had come to “give back.”

At the age of 56, Polly plunged into the pursuit of a second Bachelor’s degree, this time in the Science of Nursing at UMass, Amherst. She emerged as an R.N. and began working immediately, first at Gifford Memorial Hospital and then at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where she was a highly regarded GI/Hematological nurse.

Three years ago, Polly received the grim news that she had metastatic disease related to a recurrence of cancer in what was once her left breast. Resolute, determined, and altogether without self-pity, Polly continued her job as a nurse until the summer of 2012, when fatigue forced her to stop. She enrolled in a research study at Dana Farber Cancer Institute that prolonged her quality of life until their treatment had run its course.

Polly’s final months were, as she wanted, mostly at home, immaculately cared for by Dan. She was active and fully engaged in her life, notching off multiple projects and devising new ones, diving into thick, heavy books and being fascinated by what she read, pulling off a surprise birthday party for Dan, and amazing all who knew her for her extraordinary vitality, humor, sheer guts, and enormous grace. When asked once how she could face 30 years in the shadow of cancer, Polly replied, “I am busy living my life, not my disease.” She ended a recent email with the following: Here’s a test for determining whether you have fulfilled your mission in life. If you are alive, you haven’t.

Polly was predeceased by her brother, Stephen Poor. She is survived by her most devoted husband, Dan Patane; sister, Gail Dale and her husband, Robert Dale; brother, Edward Poor; nieces, Kate Payne, Sarah Langdon, Elizabeth Dale; and countless old, new, and loyal friends.

A tribute to Polly will be held, as she requested, at Huntington Farm “on a clear sunny day in the summer.”

The Boardway and Cilley Funeral Home, Tunbridge, Vt. is in charge of arrangements. A private message of sympathy for the family can be shared at www.boardwayandcilley.com.

Two avenues for remembering Polly were particularly important to her:

Polly and Dan have started a scholarship fund for nursing students who, like Polly, are driven, compassionate, caring, willing to do whatever it takes, and go way beyond the limits of her job. Contributions can made be made directly to Dan Patane at 15 Alger Brook Road, South Strafford, VT 05070 with “Polly Poor’s Legacy Fund” noted on the memo line.

Polly’s niece, Kate Payne will be running with the Dana Farber Team in the upcoming Boston Marathon. Contributions in honor of Polly may be made at http://www.runDFMC.org/2014/katep.