Phyllis Arline Whetstone Taper passed peacefully in her Bozeman home on Dec. 31, 2007, at the age of 93. Phyllis was born in 1914 in Santa Paula, Calif., to Carl Culver Whetstone and Mary McLaren Whetstone. In 2004, at the age of 90, she was delighted to publish her first novel, "On Kelsey Creek," to appreciative reviews.
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Phyllis spent her formative youth in Lake County near Kelseyville, Calif., where she developed her great passions for music and writing. She went to the University of California, Berkeley, on a small Lake County scholarship. She first majored in music and then graduated with honors in English. She was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa national honor society for her undergraduate work.
While at Berkeley, she edited the campus literary magazine "The Occident" and met Bernard B. Taper, the editor of "The Pelican," the campus humor magazine. They married in 1939.
After World War II, her husband's work with the military occupation government took them for several years to Germany, where their first son Phillip was born. Returning to the United States, they lived for about five years in San Francisco and Palo Alto and then for 15 years in New York City, where Phyllis interacted with many of the city's writers and artists.
Phyllis' love of travel took her to Europe, Mexico, Venezuela, Canada, India and Nepal. At 50 she earned a master's degree from Columbia University. Subsequently, she taught English at Drew University in New Jersey.
In retirement Phyllis lived in Kensington, Calif., for many years, where she participated in San Francisco Bay area writing groups and was an active member of the David R. Brower, Ronald Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy.
At the close of her life she returned to Bozeman, just a few miles from where her great grandfather John Culver had homesteaded in 1863.
She was preceded in death by her brother, William Culver Whetstone; by her son, Philip Lauren Taper; and by her friend, Rod Jordon.
She is survived by her son, Mark Louis Taper, daughter-in-law, Ann Patricia Thompson, and granddaughter, Oona Alwynne Taper, all of Bozeman. Also surviving are her former husband, Bernard B. Taper (Berkeley, Calif.); her niece, Carol Whetstone Spencer (Hamilton, Mont., and Carmel, Calif.); her niece, Lois Whetstone Abraham (Taos, N.M.); six grandnieces and -nephews; six great-grandnieces and -nephews; and several cats.
Phyllis was a great spirit who simply wore out her heart living and loving. She will be missed by many.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Bozeman Deaconess Hospice, in care of the Bozeman Deaconess Foundation, 931 Highland Blvd., Suite 3200, Bozeman, MT 59715 (http://www.bozemandeaconessfoundation.org/donation.html).
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 6, 2008