Phyllis Davis Spragg Wolcott passed away New Year's Day in Sioux Falls, S.D., where she had lived for the last two years to be close to her daughter, Sheila.
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Phyllis was born to Florence and Wes Davis in Bozeman on Oct. 18, 1917. All of her grandparents were early Gallatin Valley Pioneers, and Phyllis was always proud of her pioneer heritage. She was active in the Sons and Daughters of Gallatin Valley Pioneers and wrote up many other families' histories for presentation at the annual Washington Birthday meetings. In later years, she also worked at the Gallatin County Museum.
Phyllis was always known in the family for her spunk shown by her determination as a little girl to sleep under the stars all summer and travelling to Portland and Chicago when she was 12 to compete in her 4-H demonstration. A favorite story was when she and a friend at age 17 climbed to the top of Castle Rock up Gallatin Canyon in light summer clothing late in the afternoon only to be caught in the dark and unable to hike back down. After a very, cold night the girls expected a warm welcome the next morning when they met the ranger on the trail coming up to search for them. Instead, he thoroughly chewed them out for not having matches with them. All of us were taught to always carry matches.
Phyllis attended the Decker Country School and graduated from Belgrade High School. She went to Montana State College on a 4-H scholarship where she became a member of Pi Beta Phi and met her future husband, Brundage Spragg. They were married in 1937 and had Sheila in 1939 while living in Billings.
Brun worked for Burrough's Adding Machine Company, which led them to live in Seattle, Sacramento, Calif., where they had their son, Frank, in 1943, and finally Los Angeles where they said "enough," and moved back to the Gallatin Valley in 1947 to farm and ranch and raise their family. A third child, Susan, was born in 1950.
In 1964, Phyllis showed that spunk again by returning to college to get her teaching degree - a time when non-traditional students were truly rare. After graduation she applied for a teaching job but was told she was too old. She determinedly substituted until she was hired full-time. She loved teaching the second grade for the next 11 years at Emerson School in Bozeman.
After 34 years of marriage, Brun passed away in 1971.
In 1977, Phyllis married Frank Wolcott and started a whole new life. She and Frank led a busy social life and wintered in Hawaii for the next 27 years until their health started failing. After 30 years of marriage, Frank died in 2007.
Phyllis continued showing her spunky spirit in the last years, saying over and over again how "fortunate" she was.
She was preceded in death by her sister, Candace Davis Clark.
She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Frank and Judith Spragg; daughters and sons-in-law, Sheila and Mike Conrads, Susan and Keith Wolcott, Stephanie and Jim Adams, Debbie and Mark Kaufmann, Barb and Butch Grusing; 14 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, three great-great-grandchildren and two on the way.
Memorial services will be held in July in Bozeman.
George Boom Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Sioux Falls, S.D., is assisting the family. An online guestbook is available at www.georgeboom.com.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 7, 2011