The Valsa Elizabeth Pattara Fund
Established in 2021 by Valsa’s family in appreciation for the Chapter’s assistance with in-home care, this fund supports the Abrams In-Home Care program by providing grants to ALS patients, with a preference for those in Scranton, Lackawanna County or Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Valsa was born to Ulahanan (John) and Aleyamma (Elizabeth) Thoppil in Trivandrum, Kerala, India on March 24, 1950. When she was 5 years old, the family moved to Kochi, Kerala where she attended St. Teresa’s school and college until she married Varghese Thomas Pattara on May 30, 1968. Valsa and Varghese lived together in Kochi before emigrating to Scranton, PA in 1970.
Ulahanan Thoppil, her father, funded libraries near his village of Matakara, Kerala. He passed his belief in charity and love of education on to Valsa who had a passion for reading about current events and human interest stories. She grew up in India reading Reader’s Digest as well as Time and Life magazines and, more recently, was frequently on her iPad catching up on world events. She passed this love of reading and learning on to all of her children and grandchildren and was proud of each of their accomplishments – including little Bodhi reading to her. Having studied in an all girls Catholic school herself, she was a strong believer in Catholic education for her children and grandchildren.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Valsa was happiest when cooking for others, particularly for parties and holidays. She was renowned for her Kerala dishes as well as for Italian hoagies and apple pie – which she learned while volunteering at the school kitchen when her children attended St. Mary’s Visitation in Dickson City. She took great pride in the fact that her daughters Beena, Theresa and Elizabeth all enjoy cooking and entertaining – including making her friend Stephie’s apple pie.
Valsa was a loving and doting wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunty and friend. She was never happier than when cooking her family’s favorite meals. She loved caring for children – she never met a baby she couldn’t make smile. She thoroughly enjoyed looking after and spending time with her grandchildren as well as nieces and nephews. She never turned down the chance to get down on the dance floor especially with her grandchildren.
Valsa was a devout Catholic and grateful to complete pilgrimages to various shrines and holy sites including Our Lady of Guadalupe, Rome, Fatima, Lourdes and finally Israel for Easter in 2018 where she and Varghese renewed their wedding vows at the Church in Cana to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
Valsa was diagnosed with bulbar-onset ALS on September 24, 2019 and passed peacefully at home on February 8, 2021 with her family at her side. This fund honors her commitment to service and charity. The family committed to caring for her at home and wish to help those with ALS remain at home.