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Phyllis Severance

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Phyllis Severance Obituary
Phyllis Smith Severance, 95, of Exeter, NH, formerly of Wellesley, MA, and Tuftonboro, NH, died at home on August 18, 2013. Born in 1917, to Ethel Belle (Miller) and Carl D. Smith, Phyllis grew up in Wellesley, MA, and graduated from Wellesley High School in 1934. She received a bachelors degree in English from Oberlin College, followed by a year of study at the Katharine Gibbs School. She worked in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Registrars office from 1939 to 1943. It was there that she met her future husband, Donald P. Severance. They were married in 1941 at the presidents house at Babson College during her father's tenure as president. Phyllis and Donald settled in Wellesley, MA, where they raised four daughters. In the 1960s Phyllis returned to work. She worked at Wellesley College in the Department of Mathematics and later in the Greek and Latin Department. Education was a constant throughout Phylliss life. Her father, a teacher and college administrator, was on the Wellesley School Board during the planning stages for the Gamaliel Bradford High School, which opened in 1938. Years later when the Town of Wellesley decided to name its new elementary school after a politician, Phyllis led a successful campaign to name the school after an educator, former high school history teacher Ernest F. Upham. She was also an active alumna of her high school class, serving on the 50th Reunion Committee. Phyllis belonged to the Wellesley Hills Womens Club, the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church, the Wellesley Historical Society, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Skating Club of Boston. Phyllis accompanied Donald, who was the Executive Director of the MIT Alumni Association, to every MIT Alumni Day and Cambridge-based MIT alumni function for 48 years. She could recall the names (including middle initials), class years, and courses of study for hundreds of alumni. Phyllis was a sportswoman who enjoyed mountain climbing and hiking, downhill and cross-country skiing, figure skating, swimming, and tennis. She was a lifetime member of the Appalachian Mountain Club, of which Donald was president. She was a longtime member of the Skating Club of Boston, where Donald also served as president and on the Board of Directors, and where two of her daughters skated. Phyllis enjoyed ice dancing and skating in the Clubs annual show, Ice Chips. She also worked with the clubs hospitality committee. Phyllis and her family enjoyed spending summers on Little Bear Island in Lake Winnipesaukee where they built their summer home. She also had a lifelong love of travel which began when she was a child with her familys summer vacation trips to relatives homes in Iowa and Oklahoma. After graduating from college in 1938, she and three classmates drove across the country. She and Donald traveled extensively throughout Europe and the US where they enjoyed hiking in the National Parks. Phyllis was an avid reader. She continued her lifelong interest in books as Chair and a member the Library Committee at RiverWoods in Exeter, the community to which she and Donald had retired. She was also a skillful seamstress and an accomplished knitter. In her late 80s, Phyllis cared for her adult daughter, who had survived a brain hemorrhage, while simultaneously caring for Donald, who, by then, suffered from Alzheimers. Phyllis provided constant care for her daughter that enabled her to learn to walk again and to function independently. Phyllis is survived by her four daughters: Carol S. Glenn of Amesbury, MA, Patricia and Andrea Severance, both of Newburyport, MA, and Gail Severance of Shrewsbury, MA; two grandchildren, Lisa Glenn Laverty of South Hamilton, MA, and Jonathan S. Glenn of Maplewood, NJ; and three great-grandchildren, Ryan Laverty, Dylan Glenn, and Scarlett Glenn. Her loving and devoted husband of 72 years died in June. She was also predeceased by her brother, Carlton Smith, and her sister, Eleanor S. Hughes. A service celebrating both Phyllis and Donald will be held at RiverWoods in Exeter, NH, at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made in Phylliss memory to the Appalachian Mountain Club, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02108.

Published in The Amesbury News from Aug. 27 to Sept. 3, 2013
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