Died peacefully Wednesday, January 11, 2017. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, genealogist, gardener and early childhood learning advocate. Born in Schaefferstown, PA on August 6, 1928, upon graduation from Myerstown High School, she entered Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, earning an Education History degree in 1950. In the following years, she worked with disadvantaged preschool children at the Henry Street settlement in New York City in what would become a lifelong passion for her. She married her husband for life, Leslie Hunter Whitten, Jr. on November 11, 1951 in Paris, France before moving to the Washington area in 1959. As the longtime director of Suburban Nursery School, Phyllis was an educator of and an inspiration to young children, serving as teacher and director from 1973 until 1993. Her former students continued to visit and bring their own children to meet the beloved Miss Phyllis. In 1996 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Maryland Council of Parent Participant Nursery Schools (MCPPNS). An active parishioner and Deacon of St. Columba's, she helped launch a reading program at Truesdale Elementary School, mentoring kindergarteners as they advanced through the grades and providing scholarships. Many went on to earn college degrees, proving her belief in the importance of early childhood development. For this, she was recognized by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington as a vital contributor to the community. Phyllis and Les loved opera and ballet and attended many stage productions as patrons of the arts. She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Leslie H. Whitten, Jr. of Hillhaven, Adelphi MD; her three sons, Leslie H. Whitten, III, Catonsville, MD, Andrew C. Whitten, Scottsdale, AZ and Daniel L. Whitten, Bethesda, MD; and five grandchildren, Olivia Linnore, Siera Isabelle, Elena Hunter, Hunter Clement and Ethan James Whitten. A service for Phyllis will be held at St. Columba's Church in Washington on February 24 at 11 a.m., followed by a reception in the parish hall. An interment at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Myerstown, PA will be the following day, February 25 at 12:30 p.m.
Published by The Washington Post on Feb. 5, 2017.
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7 Entries
Phyllis and her husband, Les have been friends of my family since my dad, Larry Stern worked with Les at the Washington Post. I think that goes back to work he early 60s. Phyllis was always there with Les at family events. She will be missed by a great many people. I would like to send my condolences to Les and her sons Leslie, Daniel and Andrew.
Catherine Stern O'Brien
March 4, 2017
We will miss this wonderful lady.
Charlie Browning
February 22, 2017
Mary Belz
February 14, 2017
I went over to the Whitten house to play with Daniel when we were in elementary school, and I remember Mrs. Whitten as friendly and smart. I was also over there whe we were in high school, and had fun then too. She'll be missed.
David Gayer
February 7, 2017
Phyllis has always been the kindest neighbor on our block. She gave me gardening advice and her son Daniel is the same age as two of my sons and was always a good friend to them and continues to be. I admired Phyllis and was proud to be her friend. She will be missed.
Pat Wilbert
February 6, 2017
Connie Conrad
February 7, 2017
Woody Wilson
February 7, 2017
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