Patricia Anne Morton age 84 passed away on October 16, 2019 at her home in Washington DC.
Patricia was born on May 30, 1935 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Centralia WA to Russell and Clara (Haase) Morton. She graduated high school in Napavine, going on to college in Centralia and finishing at Western Washington University in Bellingham.
Patricia worked in the office of the Governor in Olympia for four years. In 1963 she went to Florida to visit friends and took a job at a law firm in Orlando. Patricia put in her application for foreign service and by 1965 was accepted. She was given her choice of three locations; she chose Nepal as it seemed the most remote and challenging, from Nepal Patricia went to Kinshasa Africa where in 1968 she received a commendation for the excellent quality of security work she did as Post Security Officer, this was work she did in addition to her regular duties as secretary to Administrative Counselor. Finishing her tour of duty in Kinshasa, she was sent to Cameroon then to Singapore. Upon her return to Washington DC Patricia was recommended for training as a security officer and in 1972 she became the first Female Diplomatic Security Special Agent.
It was a difficult transition for Patti being the first female in an all-male field. She faced many challenges being the first female agent, including lack of support from some of her colleagues, specifically the secretarial staff. She would have to type all her documents, memos, and instructions herself, even those that were hundreds of pages, because the secretaries would not do it. At the time Diplomatic Security did not issue gun holsters that would fit or be practical for a woman, so Patti had to come up with her own way to carry her weapon, she decided to carry it in a blue clutch handbag, which she did say made it a little tricky to quickly pull her weapon when needed. During her years as a special agent she earned the nickname Pistol Packin’ Patti.
Patti served at the US Embassy in Saigon as the first female regional security officer, she led training sessions and briefings for embassy staff and family including defensive driving techniques in which she utilized a set of toy cars to go over scenarios. As the emergency and evacuation coordinator she wrote the posts evacuation plan which was put in use during the fall of Saigon in April of 1975.
Later Patti would become the Federal Women’s Program Manager, where she would direct the departments efforts to provide employment for women at all levels. She then went on to become a member of the State Department Board of Examiners where she was responsible for the selection of those that would enter foreign service. In the State Department Patti was the only women to have been a Regional Security Officer, the first women admitted to the Office of Security as a Special Agent and the first women to work as a desk officer in the foreign operations division.
Patti knew, as the first women Special Agent, that her work was always under scrutiny, but Patti was a trailblazer. She hoped by working hard, being adaptable and doing her best with what was available to her that she would make it easier for the women who would follow.
Patricia was preceded in death by her brother Donald Paul Morton and is survived by her brother Edwin Robert Morton (Elvera) of Chehalis WA, Delbert Morton of Allen WA along with 4 nieces and 3 nephews.
There will be a Graveside Service Saturday November 23 at 11am at the Napavine Cemetery.
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