Phyllis Mae Ocker
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Phyllis Mae Ocker was born January 17, 1926 and passed peacefully on August 23, 2013 in Ellensburg, Washington.
Phyllis was born and raised in Spokane, Washington to Hugh and Grace Ocker. She excelled in sports and academics, graduated from Lewis and Clark High School, then headed to the University of Washington where she was an active member of athletic programs and Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.
After graduating from the University of Washington, Phyllis taught at Snohomish High School for 2 years, then moved to Massachusetts, where she received a Master's degree in Physical Education and Health from Smith College. She taught at Smith College for a year after receiving her Master's, then went on to teach at the University of Texas in Austin, and Oregon State University.
For many years Phyllis served as counselor and Camp Director at Girl Scout and Campfire summer camps in Oregon, Alaska, and upstate New York. She taught her nieces and many young ladies who attended the camps a deeper understanding and appreciation of the beauty in nature and a love of the outdoors.
In 1961 she moved to Ann Arbor, where she began her career as a physical education professor and coach at the University of Michigan. She coached fast-pitch softball and field hockey. Phyllis was a natural athlete, limited by the restrictions of an age when girls were not allowed to play competitive sports. She became a pioneer and a role model in the field of women's athletics. She taught in the Physical Education/Kinesiology Department until she became the Women's Athletic Director in 1978.
During her tenure, Phyllis was instrumental in Title IX implementation at UM and as a member of the NCAA. In 1995, a new field hockey complex was built at the university and named in her honor. Phyllis went on to complete her coursework for her PhD, and received her ABD. Phyllis was President of the Michigan Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and President/Chair of the Women's Athletic Directors for Big Ten universities.
In 1991, Phyllis retired from the University of Michigan as Professor Emeritus and moved to Ellensburg, Washington. She quickly became involved with several local committees and organizations and was one of the first women members of the Kiwanis in the USA. She remained an active member of Kiwanis until her passing, and was honored by the organization in June, 2012. Phyllis enjoyed golf, playing cards and games, singing with local groups, and watching sports. She was an avid reader with a love of history. Throughout her life, Phyllis was a dog lover and supported organizations caring for animals.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Alverna Ocker Swan and brother-in-law, Forrest Swan of Mercer Island, WA. Survivors include her longtime dear friend, Susan Madley of Ellensburg; niece Laurie (Andy) McNicoll and two great-nephews David and Christopher of Bothell, WA; niece Patti Swan, great-niece Kimberly of Graham, WA; great-nephew Nicklas (Liz) of Lacey, WA. Phyllis is also survived by many loving friends, colleagues and students scattered across the country, including her devoted dog, Daisy.
Phyllis will be missed by many and will forever be remembered for her contributions. The world is less beautiful because Phyllis no longer lives, but the world is more beautiful because she did live.
A Celebration of Phyllis's life will be held at the Ellensburg Quality Inn, 1700 S Canyon Road, on Friday, September 27th at 1:00pm. Should you wish to make a donation in her name, recommendations are to the Phyllis Ocker Scholarship at the University of Michigan, or to an animal rescue shelter of your choice, care of Brookside Funeral Home at 101 E 2nd Avenue, Ellensburg, WA 98926.
Arrangements by Brookside Funeral Home & Crematory
Published in Daily Record from Sept. 21 to Sept. 28, 2013