Mother's Day 2011
Phyllis Johnson Parrish
  • 87 years old
  • Date of birth: Dec 11, 1925
  • Place of birth:
    Joliet, Illinois, United States
  • Date of passing: May 12, 2013
  • Place of passing:
    Glen Arm, Maryland, United States
You can choose your friends, but not your family. Isn't it wonderful that we have such a nice one?

Phyllis Joanne Johnson Parrish passed away peacefully of old age on Mother's Day, May 12, 2013 at Glen Meadows Retirement Community outside Baltimore.  She was 87.  She was well loved, and will be greatly missed.

Funeral services were held at the Carlson-Holmquist-Sayles Funeral Home, Joliet, Illinois, Saturday, May 18, with interment at Woodlawn Park. Memorials to the Silver Cross Foundation (1900 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox, IL 60451) will be appreciated. 

She is survived by her daughter Joanne (Michael) George of Longmont, Colorado and her son Willard (Leslie) Parrish of Abingdon, Maryland, grandchildren Rebecca Lynne Parrish, Amaria (Jeremy) George Parker, and Gregory (Shana) George,  great grandchildren Kylen and Elijah Parker, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.  She was preceded in death by her parents John Edwin Johnson and Clara Wilhelmina Flint Johnson, and sisters Alberta Lauterbach and Rachel Sweet.

Phyllis was born on December 11, 1925 in Joliet, where she lived most of her life.   A graduate of Joliet Township High School class of 1943, she afterward worked at the Joliet Arsenal supporting the war effort.  She attended Iowa State University, graduating with a degree in experimental foods.  After graduation, she worked for Pillsbury foods in Minneapolis, participating in the early development of cake mixes and breakfast cereals. 

She married Willard Clark Parrish, Jr., and they had two children.  After a separation and divorce from her husband in 1954, Phyllis returned to Joliet and lived there most of the rest of her life.  She entered the teaching profession, using her food background to teach home economics.  She began her teaching career in Plainfield, moving to the Joliet school district in ~1961.  She studied summers, and received her Master's in Education from the University of Illinois.  She was named the chair of the Joliet Township East High School Department of Home Economics, when it opened in 1964. She taught cooking, sewing and child development until her retirement in 1986.  Nothing pleased her more than meeting former students who commented on how much they had enjoyed her classes and the life lessons learned.

Always a great cook - even in her tiny kitchen - she enjoyed entertaining, and was the family pie baker.   At Christmas time, she would produce many batches of pecan rolls to give to relatives and friends. 

After her retirement, she devoted much of her time to the Silver Cross Advisory Board and the Encore Shop - working at their resale shop, which used profits to purchase specialized equipment for the hospital.  Retirement also gave her more time to indulge her love of bridge, knitting, needlework, gardening, travel, and getting together with friends and family.  Her family was her pride and joy.  She traveled world-wide but especially loved our family get-aways every two years during which we traveled to Michigan, Colorado's Grand Lake, North Carolina's Outer Banks, and a dude ranch in Wyoming.

In 2007, she moved to Glen Meadows to be near her granddaughter, Rebecca.  She loved the beautiful setting.  Phyllis could sit in her window and look out over the valley, seeing deer and birds, or watching the squirrels play in the trees outside.  She continued to play bridge as long as she was able, but also loved many other kinds of games and puzzles.  She always liked to keep her mind and hands busy, and was found working Sudoku or crossword puzzles if there was nothing else going on.  Together with family, it was usually the card game of "Oh, Hell".  Up until the end, she had a remarkable grasp of anything to do with numbers.

She also kept her dry sense of humor.  Within a week of her death, a physical therapist was working with her, trying to get her out of her wheelchair, and back using her walker.  She said "Let's get up and go for a little walk now."  Phyllis responded "I'm tired.  You go for a walk.  I'll wait for you here."  

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Steve Lauterbach on 12th December 2014

"On this occasion of the anniversary of Aunt Phyllis's birth, I reflect on the fact that all three sisters are departed: my Mom, and Aunts Phyllis and Rachael. I look at the succession of pictures at the top of this page of Grandma Clara when her children were wee ones to the time when Aunt Phyllis herself was grandma to Rebecca, and I take in the arc of life. We are all the beneficiaries of a wonderful family line from the Flint/Johnson pairing.

I have so many wonderful specific memories of Aunt Phyllis at so many family gatherings. She was always quick to smile, and her common-sense, warm approach to life was remarkable.

With loving memories, Nephew Steve"

This tribute was added by Katherine Lauterbach on 12th December 2014

"Dear Aunt Phyllis,
I just decorated our Christmas tree and I am always reminded of you as I hang the many beautiful ornaments you made for me.  You were such a fine role model with your impeccable workmanship.  Thanks for setting such a good example.  I miss you, love, Katherine"

This tribute was added by Joanne George on 12th December 2014

"Mother,
On this day of the 89th anniversary on your arrival in this world, we remember you and all the love you gave us.  
Love always, Joanne"

This tribute was added by Will Parrish on 11th December 2014

"Happy Birthday.  Thinking of you and missing you.

Will"

This tribute was added by Joanne George on 12th May 2014

"Dear Mother, On this first anniversary since you left us, I still miss you.  But I know that you will always be with me.  You are inside me in so many ways: the love of creating beautiful and/or delicious things, playing games, traveling, entertaining, the importance of family, your generosity, the love you always showed, and so many other things.  Love forever, Joanne"

This tribute was added by Will Parrish on 12th May 2014

"Thinking of you today, Mother.  Love you and miss you.  Rebecca turned 18 a couple days ago.  She's all grown up and you would be very proud of her."

This tribute was added by Steve Lauterbach on 12th December 2013

"I said this back in May when I first posted to this site, but on the occasion of what would have been her 88th birthday, I have nothing but good memories of Aunt Phyllis. She was a very special person. I will always miss her sense of humor and upbeat approach to life."

This tribute was added by Joanne George on 11th December 2013

"Happy 88th Birthday, Mother.  I miss you.  Love always, Joanne"

This tribute was added by Will Parrish on 11th December 2013

"Happy Birthday Mother.  You always said you new your birthday was coming when it snowed.  We rang in your birthday with a couple pretty decent snows this year.  We love you and miss you."

This tribute was added by Carolyn Baitinger on 13th September 2013

"Phyllis was the FHA sponsor at Plainfield.  In that capacity, she encouraged me to run for sectional and state offices in that organization, and she drove me to those events.  She was a wonderful role model and an important part of the high school life.  We kept in touch through Christmas cards until she moved away."

This tribute was added by Amy Lauterbach on 29th May 2013

"I have many memories of kind, gracious, generous, smart Aunt Phyllis. In 1976 Aunt Phyllis gave me her old Pfaff sewing machine for my high school graduation present. Recently I've used that machine to sew 3 down sleeping bags, and I think of Aunt Phyllis with every stitch. I'm lucky to have a tangible reminder of her wit and skill accompany me as I sew!"

This tribute was added by Nancy Kantne on 19th May 2013

"I wll always remember Mrs. P. sitting at her table:  playing cards, working on a craft, working on a tasty tidbit and joining us high school girls in conversations.  She always had something to add and encouraged each of us to grab for the gusto."

This tribute was added by Marcia Crary on 17th May 2013

"I first met Phyllis soon after I met Joanne, our freshman year at Knox. My family was far away in Colorado, but on Parent's Weekends, Phyllis made me part of her family. Later, when Joanne & I were sharing a house in Colorado, Phyllis would call to talk to Joanne. If Jo was gone, she would have a good long chat with me, despite the cost of long distance back then. She will be deeply missed"

This tribute was added by Katherine Lauterbach on 17th May 2013

"I loved Aunt Phyllis's laugh. I have so many memories of her and time spent in Joliet.  I remember when I was first learning to sew and it meant so much to me when she approved of one of my projects.  She was such a fabulous cook and baker.  The handmade Christmas ornaments and the growth chart she gave me when Claire was born are family treasures.  Love, Kacki"

This tribute was added by Michael George on 15th May 2013

"She was the best Mother-In-Law anyone could hope for who welcomed me into her home during the toughest time of my life. Christmas without my children who were in Samoa. She not only graciously accepted this stranger into her home, but made feel as though I was a long time friend of the family and later she became the ideal grandma to my children, who she had never met before."

This tribute was added by Christine Lauterbach on 14th May 2013

"Joanne & Will -- I have tons of great memories of Aunt Phyllis: sleepovers at your house when we were kids, going out for hot fudge sundaes when your family took me on vacation with you to Michigan, lots of Christmases and Thanksgivings and Easters, and, of course, a million games of Oh Hell. It wasn't often that I ended up with a higher score than your mom! Lots of love to both of you."

This tribute was added by Steve Lauterbach on 14th May 2013

"We were so looking forward to seeing Aunt Phyllis at the Johnson Reunion in July. She was such a good person and I have wonderful memories of her since childhood. Her wit, her intelligence, her common sense, her laugh. She was always so kind and supportive.
With love, Steve, Cathy, and Eric"

This tribute was added by Joanne George on 14th May 2013

"She was a wonderful mother.  I so admire her ability to raise two young children in the 1950s - before child care centers existed - with the help of my Grandma and Grandpa.  She was so strong and loving.  I was very grateful to have spent several days with her before her death.  Love forever, Joanne"


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Joanne George

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