A memorial service is planned this afternoon for Pearl Phillips, whose family shares this remembrance:
Pearl Virginia (Niebanck) Phillips, 89, of Seattle passed away April 16. Daughter of Lillian Spamer and Frederick Niebanck, Pearl was born August 2, 1924, in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
Pearl grew up in New York City, but at the age of 16, her family drove cross-country to California. The experience opened her eyes to the natural beauty of the country, and once home, she resolved to return someday. Five years later, Pearl fulfilled that dream and moved to California, living with relatives while she worked in a defense plant during WWII. There, she met her future husband, Don, at an officer’s dance. A native of Washington state, he romanced her with tales of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, promising to buy her a flannel shirt, blue jeans and hiking boots. Three months later, they were married and headed to Washington, where Pearl lived the rest of her life.
Pearl was a city girl, Don a woodsman. Together they explored the forests of the Olympic Peninsula, often off-trail, Don hopping rocks across streams or walking logs over ravines while Pearl rode his shoulders.
At night, they squeezed into a single sleeping bag under the stars. Don slept while Pearl kept a lookout for bears and cougars, shining a flashlight at every rustle in the darkness. Despite her fears, these adventures were some of Pearl’s fondest memories.
During their first years of marriage, Pearl developed an interest and love for gems and minerals; in 1961, they opened a lapidary shop in Everson, Washington. Although the shop closed after a year, many family vacations were spent driving dusty backroads or combing river banks in search of jade, agates, jasper, thunder eggs, obsidian and petrified wood to name a few. More than once, the car lost an oil pan to bad roads and torn maps were repeatedly consulted and argued over. Still, they always came home with heavy bags of treasure, many of which held special meaning for Pearl for their memories.
Pearl was an insurance underwriter for most of her adult life. The last 25 years were spent with Alexander Meyers Insurance Co., until she retired in 1993. She was a valued employee who took great pride in her job, rarely missing work.
Nothing, however, made her more proud than her family. Having lost her mother when she was 4 and her father when she was 11, and living far from her stepmother and stepsiblings, Pearl’s family was everything to her. As a child she’d survived scarlet fever, diphtheria and polio, which left her with a disability. Pearl had been repeatedly told that because of her disability, she’d never get a job, never marry, and shouldn’t have children because they’d be sickly. But Pearl was feisty and had a fighting spirit. She did all of these things and more. She was there for her family no matter what they were doing, from rummage sales and plant sales, to babysitting and graduations; from helping with a move from one home to another to redecorating the kitchen and always attending the many, many family celebrations. She was our mom and will be greatly missed.
Predeceased by her husband of 32 years, Donald Eugene Phillips, Pearl is survived by her four children: Laura Thomas (Randy) of Seattle, Marc Phillips (Janice) of Tonasket, Gale Kroll (Detlev) of Seattle, and Leslie Phillips-Catton (John) of Ravensdale; 10 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held today (May 1st) at 1:00 pm in community room #2 at The Kenney retirement home (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW). In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to The Kenney.
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