Phyllis died peacefully Sunday, April 9, surrounded by her beloved family who were able to hold her, sing to her and reassure her as she moved on. Until 2 days before her death she was talking politics, fashion and Foyle's War with her long time caregiver Barbara Cadarette, her daughter, Karen Lord and whoever else dropped in.
Although she was only 4ft 9in and 100 lbs, Phyllis was anything but diminutive in her life. Born in 1918 while her parents were vacationing in Atlantic City, she grew up in a large extended household in Philadelphia. Her family were entrepreneurs, labor organizers, socialists and social workers. They were a politically and socially progressive clan that encouraged community service and political participation.
Phyllis lived her long life informed by these values to the benefit of everyone she knew and loved.
A graduate of West Philadelphia High School, Radcliffe College and Catholic University School of Social Work, Phyllis was a dedicated and creative social worker in the Washington DC Mental Health Dept. For decades, she worked with children and parents at a "Child Guidance " clinic. She extended her passion for social work to her daughter, Karen Lord, who followed in her footsteps.
Phyllis met the love of her life, Paul, at a party in Washington DC. It was love at first and last sight. They lived in DC where Paul was a tax attorney and law professor. After Paul's retirement from government, he dedicated himself fully to teaching tax law first in DC, then in Boston and finally in Los Angeles. Their life was rich with family visits, friends, cultural events, work they loved and travel.
When Karen was school age, Phyllis and Paul helped to found Burgundy Farm, the first integrated school in Virginia. Karen grew up nourished by their devoted love and encouragement, whether she was working for civil rights in Mississippi, practicing as a professional social worker, or running a family bakery and goat farm.
Phyllis' politics were decidedly liberal; she always stayed informed and voted her principles. She combined civil rights and anti-war activism, feminism, intellectual curiosity and a sense of style that attracted people to her. She mentored and adored her granddaughters taking them on trips, to galleries, plays, and lectures. She danced at their weddings and spoiled their kids. She was known for her sense of style, love of jazz, turquoise jewelry and Navaho rug collection.
After Paul's stroke in 2005 they moved from LA to Greenfield, from City to Country. At first Phyllis was dismayed that her classy urban clothes did not fit in but she adapted to country life with grace and a sense of adventure. She supported GCC and enjoyed their senior symposia as long as she was able. Paul and Phyllis lived together with Barbara as caregiver. After Paul died in 2006, Barbara stayed with the family to care for Phyllis first as a companion and later as a devoted helper.
As a mom, grandmother and great grandmother and friend, Phyllis' warmth and sincere interest in and concern for people made her popular with all generations. Her house was large, comfortable and welcoming, and any occasion was cause for a party.
Adored by all of us she is survived by her daughter, Karen Lord; granddaughters Apple Sussmann(Michael) and Hannah Lord (Andy Mathey); great grandkids Margaret, Max, Rose and Paul; and her companion Barbara Cadarette.
Phyllis will be hugely missed for her sparkle, charm, wisdom, generosity and beauty inside and out.
Alfred Roy & Sons Funeral Home 12 Hammond St. Worcester, MA is assisting the family with arrangements. www.Royfuneral.com