DOWNEY − Patricia Gomez-Pratt was the first woman ever asked to join the Rotary Club of Downey. And at first glance, it’s not hard to see why.
“She was bigger than life,” said Jacob Adajian, Pratt’s fiancé. “Warmhearted, lots of energy…she just loved people.”
Pratt, a past president of the Downey Chamber of Commerce and the former owner of Johnny and Company, died on Aug. 27 of stomach failure. She was 71.
While Pratt was known best for her beauty salon on Downey Avenue, the Iowa-native evolved into a celebrated philanthropist and community business leader.
Born in Creston, Iowa on Aug. 7, 1943, Pratt moved to California with her parents, Lyle and Kathryn Abbott as a child. She later graduated from Bell High School and went on to attend beauty school.
It wasn’t long before Pratt became owner of Johnny and Company in Downey where she expanded the salon’s staff to more than 40 employees.
During the Christmas season, Pratt would bring orphaned children to the salon for a day of hair styling and holiday celebration. Pratt would also give up many Saturdays to do the hair of wheelchair and bed-bound patients at Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center.
As a community leader, Pratt served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, president of the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital Guild, a member of the Assistance League of Downey, and a grand marshal at the annual Downey Christmas Parade.
In 1988, Downey educators Ed Sussman and Ed Potter asked Pratt to join the Rotary Club of Downey.
“She loved Downey. She loved Downey Rotary and their charity work,” Adajian said. “Pat was always generous.”
While continuing to run Johnny and Company, Pratt enrolled in UCLA Culinary School, graduating with a culinary arts degree. She later launched her own catering company and taught gourmet cooking classes at various high schools and colleges.
Pratt eventually sold her Downey business and retired in Naples where she lived until her death.
“She was beautiful – she loved her clothes, jewelry, and a good party,” Adajian said. “She was a wonderful friend…and should have been around a lot longer.”
Pratt is survived by her son Jeff, four grandchildren, Jeff Jr., Candice, Violet, and Zoe, her fiancé Adajian, sister and brother-in-law, Jean and Paul Rukasin, nieces, Paula Piltz and Cindy Rukasin, and great niece Chantra Rukasin.
A celebration of life is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Long Beach Yacht Club.
Published: Sept. 18, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 23