Patrick Francis Tyrrell
Patrick Tyrrell, 65, passed away on September 1, 2017 in Albuquerque. He is survived by his wife, Maiya, and his brothers, (twin) Dr. Timothy Tyrrell, Thomas, and Michael, as well as many loving nieces and nephews.
The son of Dr. Thomas C. Tyrrell and Dr. Sallie M. Tyrrell, Pat was born on December 18, 1951, and grew up in Calumet City, IL. He was valedictorian of his graduating class at Chicago's Mt. Carmel High School, graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, then went on to obtain a Masters of Social Work from Loyola University, a Masters of Education and a Masters of Public Administration from University of New Mexico.
Patrick married his wife Maiya on August 16, 1980 at Wheatfields Lake, AZ; they were married 37 years. Ever since they have made a wonderful team and as anyone who has ever met them could confirm, a most special couple. Pat and Maiya had “four legged children,” miniature schnauzers, Queen Victoria and Tulip.
In the spring of 1973, as he was approaching graduation from the University of Notre Dame, Patrick saw a flyer on campus asking "Interested in the Southwest?" He didn't know at the time how interested he would be, but he was interested enough to attend the session the flyer was publicizing. It had been posted by a UND alum, who had spent a year teaching as a volunteer at St. Michael's School in Window Rock, Arizona, the capital of the Navajo Nation. Pat was sold on the idea of a year in the Southwest and ended up teaching at St. Joseph's, an elementary school in Winslow, Arizona; the school's playground was on the very fringe of the Painted Desert and in the distance stood the stark mesas of Navajo and Hopi country.
During the next two years, Patrick would teach primarily the 5th grade; the kids quickly nicknamed Mr. Tyrrell “Mr. Turtle.” Patrick eagerly embraced the Mexican American, Spanish New Mexican and Native American heritages. With his open, funny yet sincere and loving demeanor, Patrick soon became a beloved figure not just among the students at St. Joe's, but also among their parents and siblings and indeed in wide segments of the community that had nothing to do with the school or St. Joseph Church. And by then the Southwest was deeply in his heart. Pat got his master's in social work at Loyola in Chicago and returned to the Southwest to work as a social worker in Shiprock on the Navajo reservation, this time on the New Mexico side. It was while working in Shiprock that he met his beloved wife Maiya. He was also an active and popular member of the community. Among other things, he coached Little League and one year he and his co-coach drove the team to Albuquerque 200 miles away to see an Albuquerque Duke's game. The Dukes were then Albuquerque's minor league baseball team.
He and Maiya then moved north as he took the position as the Director of the Los Alamos Council on Alcoholism. Patrick established new programs to address problems of chemically dependent high school students in Los Alamos County. He also developed and delivered a community based substance abuse program, which went on to receive the prestigious Governor’s Award for Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Programming. This program became the model used in other communities and school districts throughout the state of New Mexico. During this time, Patrick also provided essential support to students as Assistant Professor and Faculty Liaison through the College of Santa Fe, Social Work Department; coordinated alcoholism and counselling services, directed counselors and provided in-service training for the Navajo Nation, Shiprock region; and trained counselors in techniques and concepts of human services at the Navajo Community College in Shiprock, Arizona. Patrick was appointed Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers-New Mexico Chapter (NASW-NM) in March 1987; a position he held until his retirement in December 2015.
Patrick was a pillar in the social work community. He was greatly respected as a leader and invaluable resource to his colleagues, students, and in the legislative community. He was a believer in people and fought for the greater good with his unwaivering convictions that together social workers could make things better for everyone.
Patrick served on many boards for nonprofit organizations including: Co-Chair of the Human Needs Coordinating Council; Steering Committee member of the Health Action New Mexico, as well as their President from 2003-2007; past President of the New Mexico Alcohol Program Directors Association; Chair of the Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty; and the Southwest Independent Practice Association, just to name a few. This past April, Patrick received a Certificate of Appreciation of his Commitment, Dedication and Loyalty for his 19 years of service on the Board of Directors at La Familia-Namaste.
Patrick’s accomplishments are too numerous to list. However, a few of his major accomplishments during his tenure as NASW-NM Executive Director include: leading the successful effort in 1989 to secure multilevel licensing in NM along with third party reimbursement; overcoming then Governor Johnson’s attempts to abolish licensing in 1996; coordinated lobbying to extend social work licensing in 1997 and 2005 (and as a result of those efforts, licensing was extended until 2016); securing the inclusion of licensed social workers as Medicaid and Medicare providers in NM, thereby making them eligible for reimbursement; bringing about change in state educational standards recognizing social workers as reimbursable mental health providers in schools, and as a result, there was a 300% increase in school social workers in NM since 1991.
In addition, Patrick collaborated with Health Action NM to pass landmark Patient Protection Act legislation guaranteeing managed care consumers a bill of rights; worked with Human Needs Coordinating Council in advocating successfully for the establishment of a public housing trust fund in 2005 and major unemployment reform in 2003; secured legislation to eliminate the gross receipts tax for clinical social workers; and organized the successful protest of Presbyterian Health Services' decision to lower reimbursement rates for clinical social workers, to which Presbyterian has since restored and increased rates.
Patrick helped to organize campaigns in 2004 and 2005 legislative sessions that reduced cuts to Medicaid by over $20 million dollars; played a significant leadership role with the NM Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty resulting in historic legislation in 2009 to end capital punishment. Patrick also took the leadership role in exposing the abuses of the state’s Medicaid behavioral health program which led to a Congressional inquiry and major reforms.
Patrick mentored numerous social work students as a Field Instructor for their NASW-NM internships at the Bachelors and Masters level through New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico State University, and Eastern New Mexico University. Since 2003, Patrick sponsored the Student Legislative Advocacy Day for social work students.
Among some of the numerous awards bestowed on Patrick include the: 1989-1990 Gavel Award In Appreciation, Midwest Alliance in Nursing; 1999 National Award for Outstanding Chapter Executive, by The Council of Chapter Executives, NASW; 2001 award In Recognition for his Ground Breaking Contribution to Changing the Face of Medicaid and Managed Care in New Mexico; February 2005 President’s Award for Outstanding Service to NASW-NM; and 2014-2015 award for Dedication and Excellence, Eastern New Mexico University, Bachelor of Social Work Program.
After Patrick’s retirement as the Executive Director from NASW-NM, he took some well-deserved time off to spend with his wife, Maiya. Whether they were travelling from Pagosa Springs, Angel Fire, or to simply visit family and countless friends, Patrick embraced all of his travels throughout the southwest. It only took one year after retiring for Patrick to once again begin his advocacy for the people of New Mexico. He, along with other colleagues, friends, and social work students, successfully lobbied at The Roundhouse during the February 2017 session to keep the repeal of the death penalty in place and to ensure that the state legislators would, through their budget, policies, and legislation, work for all the people of New Mexico.
In his time as the Executive Director at NASW-NM he worked tirelessly to make significant changes that would improve the lives and work of social workers and the people they served. He cared about everyone and knew no stranger. He always had a smile on his face, provided a compassionate ear to lend, and even a goofy joke to make you smile. Patrick will forever be loved and missed.
Services will be on Thursday, September 21st at 11am at Calvary Chapel, 4001Osuna Rd. NE. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to University of Notre Dame Center of Social Concerns, 1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556.