Patricia Quigley-Ayscue, 63, of Mantua, Gloucester County, an assistant director of public relations at Rowan University and an adjunct professor of communications at Rowan, a woman of deep faith and long-lasting friendships, died Thursday, Oct. 31.
Ms. Quigley-Ayscue, who was a suburban correspondent at The Inquirer for 12 years before she took the job at Rowan University in 1998, died of complications after surgery for diverticulitis, said her husband, Brian Ayscue. She had been ill for several months.
“She was the kindest, sweetest, most beautiful person I’ve ever met,” said Ayscue, 71, who met his bride late in life -- they were married just two years ago.
The attraction was instant, said Ayscue, who had been previously married. They shared a similar worldview and a strong Catholic faith. Ms. Quigley-Ayscue was an active parishioner at Church of the Incarnation in Mantua and the Diocese of Camden.
“I was the luckiest man in the universe," he said. “She was a woman of faith, charity, and mercy.”
Tobi Schwartz-Cassell became a lifelong friend of Ms. Quigley-Ayscue’s in 1978 during their senior year at Glassboro State College — now Rowan. Though they are of different faiths — Schwartz-Cassell is Jewish — they became as close as sisters and shared religious holidays over the decades.
“She cared so much about everybody,” said Schwartz-Cassell. “I’m just at a loss, devastated.”
Ms. Quigley-Ayscue worked as an editor at the Suburban Newspaper Group and also wrote articles for Girlfriendz, a Cherry Hill magazine that Schwartz-Cassell published.
In 2016, Ms. Quigley-Ayscue told Inquirer columnist Kevin Riordan about her family’s tradition of embroidering the Thanksgiving tablecloth with the names and dates of different guests, “along with something they’re thankful for.”
“A couple of years, there are things written that related to biopsies, one mine,” she said. "All it says that year is ‘benign.’ "
Ms. Quigley-Ayscue was born in Philadelphia, the only child of John and Rose Quigley, whom she described as working-class parents who did not attend college. But they vowed to send their child to university.
“Before I was born, before he knew whether I was a girl or a boy, before he knew if I would like school or do well in it, my father decided I was going to attend college,” Ms. Quigley-Ayscue wrote in a 2012 Father’s Day story in the Catholic Star Herald.
Her father died when she was 13, long before she got a degree in communications. She followed up in 2003 with a master’s degree in writing from Rowan. She had completed studies for a master of arts in theology at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, N.J., when she died; her husband said she will be awarded the degree posthumously next year.
Schwartz-Cassell credits her friend with encouraging her to pursue the shy young man who would become her husband of more than 37 years. But she said that Ms. Quigley-Ayscue never found the same kind of partner for herself until she was nearly 60.
“Pat was a strong woman and fine being single,” she said. "She waited for somebody special.”
Ayscue also graduated from Glassboro State College, but knew Ms. Quigley-Ayscue only as a byline on stories he admired in the Rowan alumni magazine. They met several years ago after friends encouraged them to connect on social media.
He proposed on the beach in Ocean City, N.J., and they were married in September 2017.
“God smiled on me, for a while,” he said.
In addition to her husband and her mother, Ms. Quigley-Ayscue’s survivors include a stepson, Stephen Ayscue; three grandchildren; and an uncle.
A visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at Smith Funeral Home, 47 Main St., Mantua, and 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at Church of the Incarnation, 240 Main St., Mantua. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m.
Burial will follow at New St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bellmawr.