TRUCKEE, Calif. — Jill Patrick knew it took a village to raise a child.
As owner and operator of Hand ‘N’ Hand Family Day Care, a home-based, child-care facility serving the Tahoe City, West Shore and Truckee areas, she provided kindness and support to countless local families over the past 20 years, friends and family said this week.
Patrick, 50, died Jan. 11 from injuries suffered in a head-on vehicle collision on Highway 89 between Truckee and Tahoe City.
Jon and Jessica Wilson of Truckee entrusted both their children to Patrick.
“Any time you walked away from a conversation with her, you felt happy,” said Jon. “She was like a mentor to the parents.”
“We don’t have any family close by,” Jessica explained. “She was the closest thing you could get to family because she knew our kids so well. She could always tell you something specific your child did that day. She once told me my daughter was the loudest screamer she had in 20 years.”
The Wilsons’ four-year-old son knew Jill his entire life; he started attending day care at Truckee-based Hand ‘N’ Hand when he was a baby.
“I asked my ... son what he remembered about Jill, and he said, ‘She gave me a lot of stuff like love,’” Jessica said.
Upbeat, caring and strong, Patrick was described by friends, family and clients as simply amazing with children. Friends say she could be counted on for a few things — a bright smile, sound child-rearing advice and a solid laugh — and was constantly reinventing herself and finding new ways to engage the children.
“My mom was a natural mother,” said Jill’s daughter, Chelsea. “She just always had the gift. She was just the best mom I’ll ever have.”
A celebration of Patrick’s life will take place Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Tahoe City Yacht Club from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A memorial fund has been opened at Bank of the West in Patrick’s name, the “Jill Patrick Memorial Fund.”
According to previous reports, Garhett Miller, 30, of Las Vegas, was driving a 2003 Toyota Tacoma southbound on Highway 89 near Goose Meadows (about 5 miles south of Truckee) at about 6:45 p.m. Jan. 9 when his vehicle crossed into the northbound lane, colliding head-on with a 2001 Volkswagen van driven by Patrick.
Patrick suffered major injuries and was transported by ambulance to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno; she died two days later.
In an interview Thursday, California Highway Patrol Spokesman Tony Prisco said the incident is still under investigation; there is no indication that drugs or alcohol played a factor.
Miller was transported to Renown via Care Flight helicopter, according to the highway patrol, and was treated for major injuries.
His condition was unknown as of this writing.
— Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.