Patricia Cayo Sexton
(1924 - 2012)

Patricia Cayo Sexton

May 29, 1924

August 11, 2012


NYU Global Center - 238 THOMPSON STREET
New York City
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Sexton, Dr. Patricia Cayo-- Professor Emeritus of Sociology at NYU and author more than 15 books on education, women, and especially workers and the labor movement, and widow of Brendan Sexton, former Education Director of the United Autoworkers union, died early Saturday at home in her sleep. Pat was a self-made woman who created her road by walking. She was an autoworker—working in the same Dodge/Desoto plant as her mother. She was a proud UAW member and won election as Shop Steward of that plant—the roots of much that followed. She later worked as a schoolteacher and a radio broadcaster, all the while putting herself through university and graduate school, eventually achieving tenure at NYU. Of her many books it is notable that she turned her doctoral dissertation into her first major book, Education and Income which documented the ways the public school systems of our country cheat working class and poor students, and which became the foundation for a whole school of studies of school systems. Pat produced one of the first in-depth studies of the Latino community in America and the resulting book, Spanish Harlem, was reviewed on the front page of the Times Book Review by Mayor John Lindsay.

Pat was a Board Member of Dissent Magazine, the Workers Defense League, and the Democratic Socialists of America and remained loyal to and proud of the Autoworkers until her last. Pat was an adventurer and explorer: in the 1970’s she walked and rode around the continent of Africa, she travelled to Cuba more than once to study the education system there, and to China and Southeast Asia and India (separate trips)—usually with her reliable travelling companion Lois Gray. Pat also participated in a joint Russian/American Peace March across Russia when she was in her sixties and when the Soviet Union was still alive and intimidating.

She will be missed greatly by her stepson Brendan her stepdaughter Patty and their spouses Karen and Barry, her loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and by her colleagues and comrades in the academy and in the labor and socialist movements. Details on a service will be at her memorial website In lieu of flowers, donations to will be appreciated.

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Guest Book (30 entries)
I read her book in "Spanish Harlem" in Graduate School. When I became a teacher, I dreamed of working there. I work there now during the summers. Her research of the neighborhood remained in my mind.
Sandra Brown
December 10th, 2019
I found this site while looking up something. I did not know it existed. I was a friend to Brendon and Pat many years ago. We had a strained relationship due to political differences. In spite of those differences I admired both of them and miss them. It is too late for this but I had to make the record.
Bruce Miller (friend)
August 23rd, 2014
Dear Brendan and Karen;
Today I heard your step dad, Larry's voice on an interview,cried and tried to call your mom Hilda, wrong number and then found you guys buy finding your fabulous step mom, Pat's story and knowledge of her death. I am very sorry. She sounded like a fabulous person. My mom and dad and I heard about you guys often. Much love to your family. My thoughts are with you. I wish I had known Pat.

All the best,

Annie Schneiderman Valliere

Annie Schneiderman Valliere (Friend of Hilda and Larry)
October 14th, 2012
Dear Patty and Brendy (sorry for childhood names)
I'm sorry to learn of your loss. The last time I saw her was on the street in Soho about 9 years ago. She was definitely very much alive and kicking up her heels. And I can remember her doing the radio series at WNET when I was a kid. At the time, she was quite glamorous.
Jold Carliner (daughter of colleague)
October 14th, 2012
Brendan and family.
I was so sorry to hear of Pat's passing this morning.

I have such fond memories of Pat and our cousin Norman when they came to visit when we lived in Nevada.

Pat will be missed by all.
Rest in peace
Kathleen Cayo Anderson (Cousin)
September 20th, 2012
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"Dear Brendan and family. I was so sorry to hear of Pat's passing this morning. Pat will be missed by so many. I still think of the time when Pat and another cousin came to visit when we lived in Nevada. Rest in peace Pay"
Kathleen Cayo Anderson
September 20th, 2012
"A real loss for her friends and family and for the movement. More than ever we need her steadfast support for American workers and their unions. Ruth Jordan"
Ruth Jordan
August 18th, 2012
"Brendan and Karen, Pat was a remarkable woman and, for me, a dear friend. What a beautiful, spirited soul. I feel so blessed to have had the chance to get to know her. I am so sorry for your loss. My sincerest condolences to you and your family."
Nancy Thiel
August 13th, 2012
"BRENDAN.....Your care of Pat and love for her are appreciated by those of us way out in Los Angeles. Our visits in February are memorable because Pat was her loving and lovable self even as we renewed old debates. She is missed and will be."
Paul Schrade
August 13th, 2012


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