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Patricia Suit, former principal of St. John’s School, died Tuesday, Jan. 22. She was 63.

“She always wanted to make sure you were OK,” teacher Linda Miedzinski said Wednesday. This, even though Suit herself battled cancer for more than two decades, she said.

She said Suit would often encourage people to “walk with me,” and then share her vision about a particular topic or issue.

“She was just a pillar of strength,” Miedzinski said.

Suit, who lived in California with her husband, Steve, retired in June 2011 after about 26 years leading the Catholic elementary and middle school. The Rev. Raymond Schmidt, pastor of St. John Francis Regis Church, said she taught for a few years at the school before she became principal.

Her connection with the school in Hollywood goes back even longer.

She attended school at St. John’s in the mid-1950s. In an interview several years ago, Suit said the first grade was always crowded because back then, children received their first communion at the end of that school year. There were six rooms for eight grades at the time – ‘‘very crowded,” she said. Tuition was $2 per student per month at the time.

Suit’s mother, Miriam Drury Thompson, was one of the first lay teachers at the school in the early 1930s.

Schmidt said he remembered Suit’s “gracious, warm smile,” when she first introduced him to the students when he became pastor of the church in 2004.

He said Suit had a “beautiful balance of caring for her faculty members and her students.

“We were all in her hands as her children,” Schmidt said.

Late in Suit’s tenure as principal, St. John’s underwent an extensive rebuild and renovation after snow collapsed a large section of roof at the school. For about a year after the Feb. 6, 2010, roof collapse, students attended classes 18 miles away at Holy Angels-Sacred-Heart School in Avenue, which had closed in 2009 due to falling enrollment.

The new St. John’s building has natural window lighting in every classroom, including the ones in the basement, a security vestibule entrance, upgraded technology and the feel of a new school.

Schmidt said that Suit faithfully sat at the same pew each weekend at church, and that she particularly liked when live guitar music was worked into Mass. He said that Suit always thought of St. John’s as a musical arts school.

Miedzinski said Suit always enjoyed hearing about the successes of the school’s alumni.

The school’s band, Instruments of Peace, and the chorus plan to perform at Suit’s funeral Saturday, she said.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Brinsfield-Echols. A viewing will take place today, Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m. at St. John’s Church and the funeral will be held there Saturday at 10 a.m.

jyeatman@somdnews.com