Patricia "Dale" Oberer was a lifelong reader, world traveler

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 | 6:30 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — As a child, Patricia Oberer read every single book in the children's section of her hometown library, her longtime friend Sandra Rodney said.

She continued to pursue her love of reading throughout her life. And when she found out she had pancreatic cancer, one of her griefs was that there were still so many books left that she wasn't going to have time to read, Rodney said.

Patricia "Dale" Oberer of Columbia died Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. She was 77.

She was born May 16, 1937, in Washington, D.C., to Stephen and Adelaide (Debutts) Smith. She married Walter Oberer on Jan. 1, 1988.

As a young girl, Mrs. Oberer made trips to the library with her mother on a regular basis.

"She wanted to read books that the library considered above her level,"Rodney said. "The librarian would try to encourage her with books on her level, and she would say, 'I already read that.'"

The librarian didn't believe young Patricia had read every book in the children's section, so she quizzed her on the content of books, Rodney said. But she proved the librarian wrong and was able to read more and more advanced books.

Mrs. Oberer graduated from MU with a bachelor's degree in general studies and a master's degree in journalism. She worked from 1973 to 1979 as an administrative assistant to the minister of Missouri United Methodist Church, and, for many years, she worked at MU's School of Law as both the admissions adviser and director of student affairs. She then worked across the United States, from San Francisco to Utah.

While Mrs. Oberer stayed busy in her professional life, she always found time for books. But Mrs. Oberer wasn't one to stay stuck in her books. Rodney said that she was the type of person who could befriend anyone. And her brother Ralph Smith described his sister as an incredible, creative person with a wild sense of humor and a love for practical jokes.

Mrs. Oberer also enjoyed knitting and watching movies — specifically British movies. Rodney said she thought Mrs. Oberer's love for all things British stemmed from her extensive travel.

"She spent a lot of time in England, but she had been all over the world — everywhere but the North and South Pole," Rodney said.

Mrs. Oberer is survived by four children, Stephen Ketchie of Oregon, Karen Cade and her husband, Herb, of Columbia, Christopher Ketchie and his wife, Tomoko Kawamoto, of Long Island City, N.Y., and Gregg Ketchie of St. Louis; three stepdaughters, Freya Brown of Nevada, Jill Oberer of Colorado and Megan Oberer of Utah; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Her husband, Walter Oberer, died earlier.

Visitation will be from 2 to 3 p.m. Friday at Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 S. Ninth St. Services will follow at the church.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Books for Kids Foundation at

Supervising editor is Edward Hart.

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