Pat Noonan, Windsor women's activist and former nun, has died at 87

Pat Noonan, Windsor women's activist and former nun, has died at 87

Described as a caring feminist and activist, Pat Noonan didn't draw a line between the issues she supported and the ones she didn't before her passing Saturday morning.

The 87-year-old fought for all people and all issues, according to Noonan's close friend, Sheila Wisdom.

"I think it actually goes back to her days as a nun and a young Christian student, and her belief in equity, her belief in the dignity of all human beings, her belief that each of us has a responsibility to do what we can to make things better for others," said Wisdom.

Noonan was first sent to The Pines, a girls' boarding school run by the Ursuline nuns in Chatham when she was 17, according to the Windsor Public Library. That was where she decided to join the convent.

As a nun, she worked with a youth group called Young Christian Students, where she met Wisdom and the two became "fast friends."

"Our relationship was different then, but it has evolved over the years and we have stayed friends," Wisdom said.

As time passed, Noonan became the force behind a number of organizations — one of them being the Women's Liberation Group, which she started in 1970.

The group ran out of the old Carnegie Library on Victoria Avenue. The Windsor Star reported that the first meeting was met with an underwhelming response. One person who was there, however, was Wisdom.

One year later, Noonan left the convent.

The two continued to collaborate for the group and also worked together on The Women's Place, which Wisdom described as the precursor to many organizations that came later in Windsor.

Noonan also started the Women's Feminist Theatre — the longest running women's theatre in Canada to this day.

She said Noonan didn't stop at women's issues.

Noonan has gone to Parliament Hill during Stephen Harper's government for an environmental protest. She was a member of Windsor On Watch and was a longtime protester of pet coke stockpiled along Detroit River.

Also a teacher who has taught high school and at St. Clair College, Wisdom said Noonan was a role model and an inspiration to youth.

In 2013, a documentary about Noonan premiered — titled This is What A Feminist Sounds Like — which touched on the history of Windsor through Noonan's biography. It was shown at the 9th Windsor International Film Festival.

In the years before her death, Noonan stepped back slightly from her activities in the community as she fought with various health issues.

"Her life's been a bit quieter these past couple of years," said Wisdom, who stayed with Noonan as her health was failing.

She remembers Noonan as having a smile which could light up a room.

"She absolutely loved people."