Today, April 17, would be my mother’s 80th birthday.
Phyllis Eileen Egli was born in Manson, Iowa in 1933 in the home of her grandparents, Peter and Annie Peterson. Her grandmother, Annie Peterson, was a midwife.
Phyllis attended Hesston College in Hesston, Kansas, where she met her future husband, Kenneth Schmidt. But Phyllis had dreams of becoming a nurse. She had several aunts who were nurses and in fact one, Maude Egli Swartzendruber, taught at LaJunta Mennonite School of Nursing. So after Hesston, Phyllis moved to LaJunta, Colorado for nurses training. Ken, her husband-to-be, was working at hospitals in Pueblo, Colorado, to fulfill his service as a conscientious objector.
|Phyllis and her brother, Tom|
During that time Ken and Phyllis wrote letters. Nursing students were not allowed to be married so they knew they had a wait ahead of them. A wait they complained about in the hundreds of letters written during those years. They wrote to each other nearly every day and I still have those letters.
Finally in May of 1955 Phyllis graduated. And in August 1955 Ken and Phyllis were married in Manson, Iowa. They settled in Greensburg, Kansas, farming for Ken’s parents. Phyllis also did some nursing but soon she had a family to care for: a son in 1956, a daughter in 1957, another daughter in 1959. And when Ken decided to return to school, the family moved to North Newton, Kansas, and Phyllis worked the night shift to help support the family.
After Ken graduated, the family moved with Ken’s job to Texas for a short while. They lived in Colorado for over ten years and they added a fourth child, another daughter in 1966. Then in 1978, they moved to Indiana. Phyllis continued to work as a nurse. Sometimes she did hospital nursing, but for many years she worked in doctors’ offices.
|Ken Schmidt family|
Phyllis was a working mother, but she was always there for her kids, always involved in their lives and their activities. She was a very giving and loving person and gave her time to volunteer work and also to help her friends and neighbors and anyone she saw in need.
|Denim comforter she made|
for her grandson
|Phyllis with two of her granddaughters|
Everywhere Phyllis went she made friends. And she continued to stay in touch with family far and near and with old friends scattered all around the country. Her nursing classmates are still in close contact, writing letters and spending time together. They share that Phyllis was often the life of the party.
After they retired, Ken and Phyllis moved back to Greensburg, Kansas and lived on a farm southwest of town. The devastating tornado of 5 May 2007 came less than three miles east of them before destroying the town of Greensburg.
Phyllis suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. Over the years she chose aggressive treatments and met the crippling effects of the disease head on. In 2008 Ken and Phyllis moved into a retirement community in Hutchinson, Kansas, where they reconnected with old friends and made new.
In December 2009 Mom was having trouble keeping her balance. On January 4, 2010, she fell and was injured. She was taken to the ICU in Wichita and on January 13, 2010, Mom passed away. We all miss her everyday.