PHYLLIS JENSEN

Obituary
3 entries
  • "My condolences are offered to Mrs. Jensen's family and..."
  • "I am so glad we decided on Calloway Gardens for mom. What a..."
    - jeff jensen
  • "I cannot believe what my mother did. Can you imagine..."
    - jeff jensen
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PHYLLIS JENSEN Phyllis Jensen went to be with her Lord on Friday, September 16, 2016, after a long illness. She spent her last hours in the company of the family who were so dear to her. Phyllis Jane Jensen was born on July 20, 1926 in Spokane to Bert and Gertrude Day. She grew up in Walla Walla, graduating from high school in 1944. Phyllis attended Washington State College where she was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. After two years, she left school and married. In the next decade she gave birth to five sons David, Jeff, Paul, Randy and Mark. At 31 years old, she became a single parent. In a bold move, she enrolled in Eastern Washington State College, obtaining a degree in English and a teaching certificate. She then joined the staff of Richland High School and later Hanford High School, where she taught English for the next 21 years. In 1964, she married the love of her life, Harry Jensen. They shared a new blended family of eight Harry's children Karen, Mary, and Jack joining Phyllis's five sons. Together Phyllis and Harry shared many passions, including frequent dinner dates at many local restaurants. Harry passed away in 1991. Phyllis was elegant, gracious, graceful, kind, and funny, with red hair that barely faded with time. Many people described her as "classy". She had a confident sense of self and style that appeared effortless to others. Phyllis was a skilled and highly regarded teacher, and was the one all the students wanted for Honors English. She treated her students as valued individuals, challenging them in ways that respected them as writers, helping them build skills on what they did well. Her interests were wide: a voracious reader of a broad range of literature, theater (with trips to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with her dear friend Peggy); and unexpectedly, the game of golf that Harry introduced her to. She also enjoyed bowling in her later years. She had many circles of friends and once in her circle, you were there always. There was the "Gang of 13," that formed in high school, for example, and to whom she stayed close for decades. With these friends she was known as Daisy, a nickname that stayed with her for the rest of her life. The biggest part of her life was the family that she loved and was so proud of. "Family" was broadly defined and inclusive. "Step-children" were just her children. Grandchildren who joined the family from her children's marriages felt welcomed and loved, just as she loved those born into the family. There were close friends and their children. The friends and families of her children were wrapped into the family circle, in just the same way. Everyone in the family circle has their favorite memories of their time with Phyllis. For her sons, it included talking about shared books together, fondly-remembered frugal meals of the tough years when she went back to school as a single mother (hamburger gravy, Spanish rice, and peanut butter being particular favorites), and trips to the library. In addition, she made the best potato salad ever (even Mark, who does not particularly care for potato salad, loved it), killer fried chicken and chicken gravy, and coleslaw. She was well-known for having a supply of Drumstick ice cream cones on hand for any occasion. Phyllis was "toasted" with Drumsticks at her family memorial. Her grandchildren, all grown now, loved visiting. They would help her cook tuna casserole and bake oatmeal cookies. She let them "check out" a book and stuffed animal each visit from her room full of stuffed animals and books. She had a talent for asking the right questions about what was happening in their lives, and of sharing the right books at the right time as they grew. She was very close to her beloved sister Marge, and to Helen's mother Margaret, both of whom preceded her in death. A bit of Phyllis lives in everyone her life touched, especially her family: cousin Don Bauer and wife Norma, sons David (Pam), Jeff, Paul (Choya), Randy (Kathy) and Mark (Helen); Harry's three children Karen Gilluck (Dan), Mary Elliot (Bob), and Jack (Pat); grandchildren Kelly, Lisa, Amy, Jenni, Matt, Holly, Michael, Andy, Heidi, Rebecca, Melissa, Joel, Carrie, and Julie; nephews, nieces and great-grandchildren, close friend Peggy and daughter Molly, as well as Cookie and Ron and their sons Isaac and Zack. The family would like to extend special thanks to the wonderful staff at Callaway Gardens who cared so well for her in her final years, and to Heartlinks Hospice who provided excellent care in her final hours. We would like to particularly thank Monica, Stephanie, and Angie for their loving care in those last few hours. We'd all prefer to think of her as just having stepped out, leaving us all, as Mrs. Rabbit left Peter and his sisters, with a little note: "Now run along, and don't get into mischief." A private celebration with family and close friends was held on September 17. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Heartlinks Hospice or the Alzheimer's Association.
Published in Tri-City Herald on Sept. 25, 2016