Patricia Val Hills Cottrell
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Patricia Val Hills Cottrell
  • August 23, 1936 - December 1, 2017
  • Tampa, Florida

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Patricia Hills Cottrell passed away Friday December 1st, 2017. She was 81 years young and will be greatly missed by her many friends and family members. A fervent reader, Pat’s own life had many chapters. The daughter of 1st generation Polish immigrants, she grew up the oldest of 4 siblings in Washington Township, Michigan. Her entrepreneurial father, Richard Poljan, operated several businesses and Pat learned a lot about people while working for them. Later in life she enjoyed reminiscing about helping her mother, Viola Poljan, operate their roadside diner when Van Dyke Avenue was still a gravel road. They fed truck driver’s carrying fruit and vegetables from the area’s farms to the markets of a booming post-World War II city of Detroit.

After graduating from Romeo High School in 1954, Pat went on to attend Siena Heights College and later Wayne State University. It was while at Wayne State that she met her first husband - New Baltimore, Michigan native Jim Hills. Pat and Jim built a home in 1960 in neighboring Chesterfield Township in the “new” subdivision “Chesterfield Shores”. They shared their life and raised their 4 kids together there. Education and civic duty were important to Pat and Jim and they were active in making the area a good place to live. They supported the local schools and government as the area developed. One of their greatest points of pride was their help in the development of Brandenburg Park near their home as a place families could come to enjoy the waterfront of Lake Saint Clair. Pat worked for several local businesses throughout her professional career; her last position was as Township Clerk for Chesterfield Township. Pat resided in Chesterfield Shores until after Jim’s death in 1982. In 1986, Pat married Evern (Ev) Cottrell. The couple divided time between Chesterfield Township and Greenbush, Michigan on the shores of Lake Huron. They later spent winters in Port Charlotte, Florida where they made some great friends and loved to go to the gulf beaches and explore the waterways around Charlotte Harbor in their boat. They travelled the world extensively together until Ev passed in 2006.

In later life, Pat spent her time volunteering at several hospitals and service organizations. Despite some tough health battles of her own, she also continued to travel right up until the end of her life - always keeping an incredibly positive attitude. For the past decade, Pat was living in Tampa to be nearer to her daughter Holly’s family. She also loved spending much of the summer at a new home she built with her children near Alpena, Michigan on the shores of Lake Huron. It was the scene of many beach walks, bonfires, card games, and meals- and Pat treasured the time spent there with her children and grandchildren. She took great pride in her grandchildren and supported their many achievements in school, sports, the arts, and life, in general. However, Pat would tell you that when everyone was gone and things got quiet, one of her greatest pleasures was to sit on the deck, close her eyes, and listen to the waves lapping the shore. Pat’s upbringing and faith provided her with a positive, moral compass through which she viewed the world. If it came to it, she’d let you know what she felt was wrong or right. But throughout her life she was also very open to learning more about people, history, and culture and expanding her understanding of them. She was very accepting of others - preferring to see what she had in common with them rather than focus on differences. She came to believe “everyone had a story” and, when she met you, she took a genuine interest in yours. For that reason, almost everyone she met considered her a friend, and to her, he or she was. We are all fortunate to have had her in our lives.

Pat is survived by her brothers, Richard Poljan, and Paul (and wife Carole) Poljan, and sister, Sharon Rusak; daughters, Patty Morris, and Holly (Guy Kaminski) Hills, and sons, Jim (Marina) Hills and Christopher (Christina) Hills, and grandchildren Walker and Sofia (Holly and Guy), Lauren and Julian (Jim) and Mateo and Dante (Christopher and Christina); and many extended family members and friends. The family will welcome visitation at Gendernalik’s funeral home in New Baltimore, Michigan on Friday, December 8th 2017, from 2:30 – 8:00 pm. There will be additional visitation at 11:15 am Saturday, December 9th, at St Mary’s Queen of Creation Catholic Church in New Baltimore followed by a funeral mass at 11:45 am. Burial will be at Oakwood Cemetery in New Baltimore at approximately 1:00 pm.

Contributions in memory of Pat may be made to the American Red Cross, Tampa Community Hospital or the Mid-Michigan Medical Center – Alpena.