Phyllis Ann Church, who loved both her family and Vashon Island with steadfast devotion, died after several years of ill health on Sunday. She was 66.
Phyllis was a private person but very loving to those who were close to her. Visitors to her beautiful home just above Judd Creek were sure to get a warm hug, a delicious meal and fantastic hospitality.
She was born Phyllis Ann Barmann in Joliet, Ill., on Jan. 4, 1952, to Gerald and Geraldine Barmann. Her family eventually settled in Seattle and she went to school in the Rainier Beach area until the summer before her senior year of high school, when her family moved to Vashon.
At Rainier Beach, all the girls wore pumps, skirts and white blouses; after her first day at Vashon High, Phyllis told her mom she needed tennis shoes, jeans and T-shirts in order to fit in. Vashon was a culture shock at first for Phyllis, but it eventually became the only place she considered home.
Phyllis graduated from Vashon High in 1970 and later attended Highland Community College. She also worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines for more than a year.
Phyllis married Bruce Church on Dec. 20, 1975, and they first made their home in Seattle. After their daughter Alisa Church was born in 1978, the couple decided it was time to get back to Vashon. After “two years of weekends,” Bruce finished building their house on Judd Creek, where they have lived to this day. Phyllis enjoyed tending to the foliage and flowers around her house; watching wildlife wander to the creek; reading a book or soaking in the hot tub on the back deck. She spent nearly the last three months of her life in the hospital, and Bruce would bring her videos of their yard beginning to bloom.
Phyllis started working at K2 Sports after she and Bruce got married, took several years off after Lisa was born, then returned to the company later. Phyllis ended up working for K2 for more than 30 years, first in purchasing and later as a customer representative. She especially enjoyed when the company’s headquarters was still on Vashon and she could slip home during her lunch break.
In her free time, Phyllis enjoyed spending time on the family’s boat.
The Churches would use the boat to tour the San Juan Islands, go camping at Blake Island or even just spend a weekend anchored in Quartermaster Harbor. Their boating buddies included Joan and Doug Griffith and Cliff and Elise Lindgren. Phyllis and Bruce also made several trips to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with her sister Sheryl Braile and her husband Larry.
BRUCE AND PHYLLIS
Phyllis and Alisa had an enduring, loving bond. Lisa says her mother was determined to teach her to be comfortable with who she is and “I wouldn’t be who I am today without her.” Phyllis and Lisa had a huge doll collection together. During Christmas, Lisa enjoyed her mom’s tradition of blanketing the house with Santa Clauses. And Lisa cherished their regular trips to Costco with her grandmother Geraldine.
Cooking was one of Phyllis’ greatest talents, and she made it clear she was in charge of the kitchen. Among her best-loved dishes were chicken in phyllo and tortilla soup. No one ever went hungry at Phyllis’ house.
Phyllis is survived by her husband Bruce and daughter Alisa (partner Bryson Hvatum), all of Vashon Island. She is also survived by her mother Geraldine Barmann of Belfair, Wash., and was preceded in death by her father Gerald Barmann. She is also survived by her sisters Sheryl Braile (husband Larry) of West Lafayette, Ind., and Kim Knott (late husband Walter) of Burlington, Vt. She also leaves behind 14 nieces and nephews and her beloved morkie dog, Sadie (also known as Pup-pup).
During Phyllis’ illness, Cliff and Elise Lindgren provided great help, as did devoted neighbor Kathy Kirkland. Bruce in particular appreciated their help.
Donations in Phyllis’ name can be made to the Vashon Community Care Center.
A memorial service will be held Sunday May 20, 2018, 3pm, at the Camp Burton Lodge 9326 SW Bayview Drive, Vashon.
Dinner reception to follow.