Marie Anne DeLattre Patten was born in the Bronx, NY on March 13, 1931, daughter of Charles DeLattre and Mary Wally. She died in Athens, GA on July 30, 2016. She married Bernard C. Patten on September 5, 1953; they adopted one daughter, Karen M. Patten, who was born on September 20, 1967. Marie’s primary and secondary education was in New York City public schools. She went on to earn three college degrees: AB (1961, Sociology), College of William and Mary; MSW (1980, Social Work), University of Georgia; and PhD (1983, Special Education), University of Georgia. Marie was an avid reader and music lover. She was especially fond of poetry, and wrote some of her own from time to time. Her love of music grew throughout her life. She would leave chamber music performances and frequently comment to the effect that the world would be a better place if that kind of music was on the street corners. It is that sentiment, and the pursuit of related goals finding root around it, to which The Secret Sits Pro Musica Ensembles, Inc. was founded in 2017 in her memory. A personal encounter with Robert Frost became indelible in her life, and this is reflected in The Secret Sits, our name, being the title of the short Frost poem quoted at the beginning of the ABOUT US section.
In the dead-of-winter, 1957, Robert Frost came to the Rutgers Chapel for a poetry recitation. Marie and her husband made their way there, late over icy roads and snow. When they got there people were crowded outside the doors; there were no more seats. Marie was brandishing a copy of Frost’s book of poems, and somehow that must have become their ticket to enter. Someone took her by the arm in the crowd and said there were two seats left. They were ushered to row one, front and center—two seats probably reserved for dignitaries who never made it through the weather. Frost’s podium was right above them, not six feet away, and soon he came—grizzled old man (82), white-headed, bushy white-eyebrows. He recited some poems. The audience applauded. He talked about some of them. Marie followed him in her book, fingering line-by-line. After the applause died down on one of them, he stopped, looked down at Marie, hunched himself over the podium, and almost whispering said to her—”Did I make a mistake?” The audience erupted, and Marie shrank down to an infinitesimal point of zero dimensions —”Oh no sir, no. No.” That became a defining moment in her life, and in fact, in their family lives together. You are here at this website so many years later because of it.
Marie and her husband were devoted attendees to chamber ensembles in the Northeast Georgia area. Leaving performances, Marie would often give voice in a variety of ways to a simple idea — "The world would be a better place if that music were on the street-corners." 'Streetcorners' became their metaphor for ordinary gathering places of many kinds where, Marie held, live Better Music performed by small ensembles draws interest, and plants good seeds from which other good things can grow in a society. As a social worker and special education teacher, and gardener, she understood that without good seeds, good growth toward a Better World can never follow.
Our birthday arrived four days after Marie's death when she was laid to rest in Oconee Hill Cemetery adjacent to the UGA campus. The Frost poem surfaced during pre-funeral graveside planning between Marie's husband and their daughter Karen. At one point, Karen paused and said, "Look here Dad", as she produced a pencil sketch on an old scrap of paper she found in the family safe. It was of a tombstone, and it had the words The Secret Sits scrawled across it. Her father was surprised; he recognized it because he was the artist, and he'd not seen it in the 30 or more years since he and her mom chose their cemetery plots. He remembered it was the title of a Robert Frost poem Marie had loved, and they discussed using it on their tombstone. TSS, Inc. was, with a few steps yet ahead, born and christened in that graveside moment.
It was (now former) Hodgson graduate student Serena Scibelli who organized Marie's funeral quartet. This is the only photo we have of this first occasion where Frost's poem and music became joined. No-one at the time had any idea these young musicians were giving birth to the TSS enterprise before you, but that is exactly what they were doing. The date was August 3, 2016. Playing in the cemetery's lovely old Sexton's House, this ensemble became our first demonstration (before TSS, Inc. even existed) of what Marie always held to be true — better music live draws attention. Guests collected in the hallway and nearby rooms, and just stayed and stayed as the musicians played and played for a very long time on that shimmering summer afternoon, eventually tapering away in finality. It was reminiscent of the string quartet nearing its mortal end in the movie Titanic, playing Nearer My God to Thee as the icy waters of the North Atlantic lapped at their feet, and ending with fearless and un-wincing grace staring down oblivion — "Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight."
Gentle Marie, it has been a privilege knowing and loving you this life.