Patsy Walker Piepgrass was born on Feb.4, 1931, in Tulsa, OK, as the fourth child of Charles and Lona Piepgrass. Her family moved to Silver Springs, MD, when she was two years old. Her elementary school teachers recognized her artistic ability, but she did not study art in high school or college. Pat graduated from Wheaton College and West Suburban School of Nursing in 1952 with a BS and RN. When she returned to Silver Springs, MD, she got a job as a nurse in Sibley Hospital in Washington, DC. She and her family attended the Church of the Open Door in Washington, DC. One of her goals was to become a missionary nurse in Africa.
In June 1954, Pat met Russ Sasscer, who was visiting the Church of the Open Door, and they were married on June 11, 1955. Pat and Russ responded to a call for 20 missionaries to go to primitive Indians in the jungles of Brazil. The Yanomamo Indians had no contact with modern medicine. Pat’s medical work had a profound impact on the Yanomamo and she soon developed a close, friendly relationship with them.
She treated them for malaria and various aches and pains and they were amazed to recover from their illnesses. We built a house for medical work and to store a small supply of medicines for Pat’s ministry. Thus, she also became a pharmacist. Many people came with unusual symptoms, so Pat read her medical books, diagnosed the cases, and prescribed the medicine. In effect, she functioned as doctor, nurse, and pharmacist in that primitive society. In addition to this she studied the language, did some translation work, and cared for our four small children.
After 16 years of missionary ministry Russ became pastor of Community Bible Church in Palm Bay, FL. Pat renewed her interest in art but could not pursue it because she took a job as a nurse to help support our family. When Russ retired in the year 2000, he and Pat moved to PRC, where Pat served as a nurse in the Pavilion. She joined the Art Club and developed her artistic skills under the instruction of Bob Schwartzwalder. Her goal was to paint 13 pictures, one for each of our 13 grandchildren. A serious loss of memory ended her painting career.
Pat and Russ have four happily married children, 13 grandchildren, and 22 great grandkids. The oldest son Mark is married to Marian and is a test pilot for Lockheed Corporation. The second son Joel is married to Joanna and is the director of Camp Living Water, a year-round youth camp and retreat center in Bryson City, NC. The third son Ted is married to LaDonna and is a consultant in the mysterious world of computers. Their daughter Grace and her husband, David Crompton, are public school teachers in Tampa, FL. Pat is the matriarch of a large and talented family.