Grace Patterson was born 17 May 1899 in Wellington City, Wellington Region, New Zealand to William Alexander Patterson (1866-1941) and Katharine Maclean MacGregor (1870-1958) and died 5 January 1996 Wai-iti Road Lower Hutt, Wellington Region, New Zealand (Woburn Presbyterian Home, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand) of unspecified causes.

Grace was born and died in Wellington, New Zealand, but spent about 34 years as a Christian teacher in Darjeeling, Sikkim, and Nepal.


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General

Grace's father called her "Gracie".

As a high school principal in Gangtok and friend of the Maharajah of Sikkim, she was among the people who greeted Hillary and Tensing during their return from the ascent of Mt Everest in 1953. She was probably the only one who could speak to each in his own dialect.

On return from overseas service, Grace lived for some years at the family home at 2 Lucknow Terrace, Khandallah, then at nearby Ravi Street. She was an active Senior Friend of the Student Christiam Movement. In 1987 Grace was at Flat O, Woburn Presbyterian Home, 57 Wai-iti Crescent, Lower Hutt; later moved into the main building; 90th birthday party was attended by numerous relatives using the hall and grounds.

This is what she told a church reporter (Peggy Budge of Lower Hutt) in 1988:

"In 1928 I went out from N.Z. to the Church of Scotland Mission in its 'Eastern Himalaya' region and was stationed at Darjeeling where I remained for 6 or 7 years and then about 12 years at Kurseong in Darjeeling district. On return from furlough in 1948 I was sent to Gangtok (Sikkim) to take over the high school being pioneered there - a joint effort of the State and mission. I was there for 12 years, retiring in 1959 but returning for a year in 1961 to relieve the missionary there for furlough and then going to Kathmandu to take over the Mahendra Bhawan Girls' High School and let Miss Franklyn, then principal, get furlough in England. Except for one very interesting year I had as district missionary in my first term, I was officially in educational work all the time but always a very active member of the Nepali Church. I think I was the first missionary actually to join the Nepali Church..."

That reporter went on to summarise several conversations thus:

Grace was born in Wellington and her family moved to Khandallah when she was about three, she was the eldest child of six in a "good" Presbyterian home. Her mother was one of the early graduates of Otago University and she had positive ideas on education for her daughter. Grace went to a small private school in Khandallah, to Wellington Girls' College in 1912 and to Victoria University and Teacher Training College in 1918. She didn't graduate B.A. until 1925, "It was my own fault," she laughs, "I was teaching during this time but also I was involved in such a variety of interests."

The following is a transcription of a letter of appreciation sent to Grace in 1962:



Mahakalguri. PO Saontalpur, Dt Jalpaiguri, 2nd June, 1962

Dear Miss Patterson,

It is a pleasure to append below a copy of a minute passed by Church Board at its April meeting in appreciation of your service in the Eastern Himalayan area.

With best wishes,
Yours sincerely,
[signed] Mark Wilsom
Joint Secretary, E.H.C.B.

"461: Miss G.M.Patterson. : Retirement.

Church Board associated itself with Minute No.5739 of the Foreign Mission Committee. It records its gratitude for Miss Patterson's many years of devoted service and for all that she did in helping to upbuild the Church in this area. It also offers grateful thanks for the further year of service given in Gangtok in 1961, and expresses good wishes for the future."
  • Family sources and some external documents

Robin Patterson