Paula F. Budinger, 78, of Monona, passed away peacefully after a short illness on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, on the palliative care floor at UW Hospital in Madison. Paula was born on May 6, 1941, in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, the daughter of Edward and Irene (Stasz) Fitzpatrick.
Paula graduated from Brown University with a bachelor of science in biology. Moving to Palo Alto, California, to pursue graduate studies at Stanford, she met Roger Budinger, an electronics engineer from Chicago, on a beach in Santa Cruz. They married June 11, 1964, in Woonsocket and lived in Palo Alto, where she worked in research labs at Stanford University and the Palo Alto VA Hospital, running one of the earliest electron microscopes. Paula and Roger had two children, Beth, born in 1965, and Chris, born in 1967, and continued working throughout their childhood. When her kids were in grade school, Paula decided to leave the lab setting to cultivate her passion for art and design, earning a degree in interior design at Canada College.
In 1979, they moved to Spokane, Washington, and in 1980 to the Seattle area, where Roger worked as an electronics engineer at Boeing. Paula, who had a passion for helping people, changed her career focus to health care, first working as a nursing assistant, then an occupational therapy aide at a skilled nursing center for young people with disabilities. She became a friend, mentor and later legal guardian for Jeff Grant, who was like a son to her, until his untimely death in 1987.
When her kids were in college, Paula went back to school too, becoming a medical assistant through Lake Washington Technical College. She worked in several clinics and later became a medical transcriptionist, retiring from this in 2007.
Paula was an avid gardener and loved irises, competing in and judging iris competitions and hybridizing new types of irises.
In 2007, Paula and Roger moved to Madison, following their daughter Beth and her family. Chris moved to Madison in 2009 and helped care for both Roger and Paula.
At this point, she became an avid quilter, with a focus on color and design, and in 2015 started a blog called Paula B Quilts. Paula faithfully posted every week from her iPad about her quilting projects, about the background of the antique and mini quilts in her collection and her life, making many friends around the world. She was a member of Lakeview Moravian Community Church, the American Association of University Women and the Monona Quilt Group and Garden Club through the Monona Senior Center. She was an active member of the Frost Woods community where she lived from 2010-19.
Paula is survived by her daughter, Beth Frances (Timothy) Fahlberg; granddaughter, Sarah Anne Fahlberg; sister, Kathleen (Fitzpatrick) May; and by her many friends. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Roger (2010); and her son, Chris (2015).
A celebration of life will be held at Frost Woods Senior Apartments, 101 Frost Woods Road, Monona, at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1, 2020. Memorials may be made to Lakeview Moravian Church. Online condolences and memories of her may be shared at www.gundersonfh.com or on her blog Paula B Quilts.