Loved all earth’s creatures and can cook anything

MELROSE — Lauren Patalak of Melrose passed into eternal life on November 10 at the age of 52. She was the beloved wife of Mary Jane Donohue for 14 years and devoted mother of Lilly Grace “Axle” Donohue Patalak.

Lauren was born in Bridgeport, CT and raised in Trumbull, CT. She graduated from Trumbull High School in 1988, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in social work from Boston University.

A licensed social worker (LICSW), Lauren was Director of the Family Partners Program at Eliot Community Human Services, where she shepherded and nurtured a devoted staff. She also had a private social work practice. She regularly cooked meals for “Bread of Life,” a non-profit, food security organization in Malden and was a passionate political actor. At work, at church, marching or on a school field trip, Lauren was constantly helping others purely for their sakes, never seeking or expecting glory or even a returned favor and somehow, always, making it fun.

Lauren loved the earth and all its creatures. Every hike or walk on the beach was a quest to uncover miracles the rest of us would never see. Crustacean treasures living under wet rocks, breathtaking landscapes or “you know you can eat this” surprises, she was an informed explorer who made everyone around her a better seer. Her gator spotting skills are legendary.

Lauren’s creativity was boundless, as was her intellect. She would imagine it and it would suddenly be. And fast. She could cook anything, paint, grow, bead, throw, knit, sew, tile, read or play it. And did she love to play! Her laugh was fulsome and infectious. And was she silly! Part of her seemed to have never left middle school. Lauren simply refused to stop learning and growing. The more she learned the better all of us became.

More than absolutely anything, Lauren wanted to be and WAS an extraordinary mother. In addition to her wife and daughter, Lauren leaves her father, Andrew Patalak, Jr. from Sequoit, NY; her sister, Kimberly Patalak of the Villages, FL; and her brother Scott Patalak of Bridgeport. She also leaves her in-laws, Ralph and Judy Donohue of The Villages, FL. She was predeceased by her mother, Dawn Kapral Patalak.

Friends and family were invited to attend visiting hours at Robinson Funeral Home, 809 Main St., Melrose on Thursday, November 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. Memorial service were held at Lauren’s church, First Congregational Church, 121 W. Foster St., Melrose on Friday, November 17 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to an educational fund for Lilly Grace “Axle” Patalak, c/o TD Bank, 476 Main St., Melrose, MA 02176. For online tribute, visit