Sports

Patricia Ann Meyers, matriarch of one of SoCal’s most prolific sports families, dies

Ann Meyers might never have gotten to play with the boys were it not for her mother.

When she was in fifth grade, the precocious basketball player who would go on to star at UCLA before getting a tryout with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers wanted to play on an after-school team with her male classmates.

It wasn’t as easy as showing up and showing off her many skills. Ann needed her mother, Patricia Ann, and her father, Bob, to go to the school board to get approval through the local parent-teacher association for what was then considered a novel concept.

“It was just great having parents that supported their daughters and sons competing in sports,” Ann said.

Patricia Ann did a lot of cheering over the years. Her son Mark went to UC Berkeley on a football scholarship. Her son Dave won a national championship with coach John Wooden’s final UCLA team before spending five years in the NBA. Her daughter Patty, whom Ann called probably the best athlete in the family, won a national basketball title at Cal State Fullerton before going on to play professional softball.

The matriarch of one of Southern California’s most prolific sports families, Patricia Ann died Sept. 25 from natural causes while surrounded by family in her Laguna Niguel home. She was 96.

A lifelong volunteer, Patricia Ann washed and ironed linens for her local church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and devoted time to Meals on Wheels twice a week. The city of La Habra recognized her with a luncheon in 2015 for her more than 50 years of enriching others’ lives.

Born Dec. 13, 1925, in Wauwatosa, Wis., Patricia Ann Burke was the third of eight children. At 5, she lost her mother because of complications from childbirth, forcing her to develop resilience in her youth. She enlisted in the U.S. Nursing Corps at Marquette University, where she met a point guard on the basketball team. They married in December 1946.

The family was continually on the move while raising its growing brood of 11 children, going from Point Loma to Wheaton, Ill., before coming back to California and setting up residence in a two-story home in La Habra.

It was there that Bob would position chairs in the living room and have his children pivot and move around them as if they were defenders. Ann once broke her ankle jumping off the top of the stairs while trying to match the leap of her brother Dave, who later recruited her to follow him to UCLA.

Three years after Dave’s Bruins won the national championship at the San Diego Sports Arena in what amounted to a homecoming for the family, Ann’s team won the 1978 Assn. for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national title. She would later marry Dodgers legend Don Drysdale, becoming Ann Meyers Drysdale.

Widely hailed for her kindness and generosity, Patricia Ann regularly hosted bridge luncheons and flew to Milwaukee for reunions with her nursing friends.

She is survived by seven of her children — Mark Meyers, Catherine Meyers, Ann Meyers Drysdale, Jeffrey Meyers, Susan Meyers, Coleen Lindsey and Robert Meyers Jr. — as well as 19 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be held at Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Habra at 10 a.m. on Nov. 11.

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