Patterson Benero, longtime Denver businesswoman and socialite, dies at 90

Patterson Macdonald Benero, a Denver businesswoman, socialite, journalist and tireless volunteer, died Aug. 17 in Denver. She was 90.

A longtime member of the Denver Press Club, she served as president of the Denver Woman’s Press Club in 2001 and 2002. Benero owned a Denver public relations firm, with Judy Gregory, founded in 1960s, and she volunteered at the Denver Art Museum and Historic Denver among other pursuits and causes, over the years.

“Patterson was the grand dame of the Press Club, lighting up the room with every entrance,”
recalled friend and writer Alan Kania. “There was a definite New England elegance about her… As she did at her own Capitol Hill apartment parties, Patterson took control of informal gatherings around the Press Club bar, making sure that even strangers were comfortable with everyone else in the room. By the end of the evening, everyone would be sharing great tales among a roomful of new-found friends.”

Born March 21, 1931, in New York City, Patterson was the only child of Donald K. Macdonald, a sportswriter and horse trainer, and Elizabeth Patterson Macdonald, a community nurse who worked in the tenements of New York.

Reared in Providence, R.I., and Boston, she met Joseph L. Benero in New York City, where they were married in 1960. She attended Bryant University and worked in advertising in New York for designer Oleg Cassini.

Benero moved to Denver in 1963 and began writing a social column for the The Littleton Independent newspaper. In addition to her journalistic endeavors, Patterson was a Realtor with Mary Rae and Associates and LiveUrban Denver, she worked at Gallery One, and she ran her own retail store, The Cat’s Pajamas, on Larimer Square. She worked as an agent at Vannoy Talent in the 1970s. In 1987, she was named one of Denver’s 10 Best Dressed Women by Denver Magazine.

“Patterson was famous in Capitol Hill, downtown, and wherever else she lived … she so enjoyed all the speakers, food, events, and wouldn’t miss a party,” said Sally Kurtzman, a longtime friend and colleague. “She was delightfully fun and always interested in what I was doing, and then she would move along and cover the room. That was her PR background. The likes of her will not be found soon, and she’s probably making St. Peter have a welcome party for her — she’ll make up the list and find someone to bring the drinks!”

Benero was an advocate for the LGBTQ community, especially during the initial onset of HIV in the early 1980s. She was among the founders of the Grove Colorado Aids Memorial in Denver’s Commons Park.

“She was brave, inspirational and so unique, I was very proud to be her daughter,” said Christine Benero. “I aspire to be even a fraction of what she has done.”

Christine Benero, who is president and CEO of Mile High United Way, said that during rough patches or trying moments, her mother would pick her up with an often used phrase, a rallying call of sorts.

“‘Just put on a enough lip stick honey and it will be OK,’” Christine Benero recalled. “That was her style and it was the last thing she said to me. ‘Make sure I have enough lipstick.’”

Benero is survived by daughters, Christine, of Denver, and Patti Carlan, of Massachusetts; and a son, Adam, of Kansas.

Services will be held on Jan. 6, 2022, at St. John Cathedral in Denver. For more than 50 years Benero hosted a “Partridge Party,” 12th Day of Christmas, on Jan. 6, Epiphany. Her upcoming church service will be followed by a party with showtunes and champagne, as she requested.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Denver Dumb Friends League, in honor of her beloved Jackahua, a Jack Russell and Chihuahua mix, named Charlie; or to the Denver Woman’s Press Club.

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