Remembering Phyllis Feiring Pulfer, 1926-2016

The family of Phyllis F. Pulfer, 89, is sharing this remembrance with the community, as she was a graduate of West Seattle High School and a member of its Hall of Fame:

Phyllis Feiring Pulfer passed away on Sept. 29, 2016, at Washington Odd Fellows Home, surrounded by family. She was born on Dec. 7, 1926, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Howard Farbach and Helen McGrath Farbach. After her mother’s passing when she was still quite young, she was raised by her grandparents in Seattle and later adopted by her maternal aunt and uncle, Odene and Arthur Feiring. She graduated from West Seattle High School and attended the University of Washington. She took time away from her studies at the University, worked for a time, and later transferred to the University of Oregon. It was there that she met a rather dashing fellow who was going to college on the GI bill. Robert B. Pulfer and Phyllis were married on June 17, 1948.

Phyllis and “Bob” started a family, and after his graduation, he went to work for the Corps of Engineers, which took them to several locations along the Columbia River. They had 6 children in 8 years and she enjoyed being a mother. She was awarded “mother of the year” in 1962 and was active in Camp Fire, PTA, and her church. She returned to complete her degree in her 40s at Whitman College while raising her children, and with very limited vision. She graduated from Whitman College in 1969 with a degree in Economics. She took a job at Blue Mountain Action Council and advanced to Executive Director within a few short years. She retired from BMAC in 1992 and continued in her role as chairman of the Human Rights Commission for the state of Washington.

Phyllis will be remembered for her tireless advocacy for social justice. She fought for the rights of the educationally and economically disadvantaged, the differently abled and the victims of bigotry and injustice. She served on many boards of directors in the community helping to steer organizations to financial solvency. While at BMAC she instituted programs to help winterize homes, developed training and employment for disadvantaged youth, created the Day Care Center at the Migrant Labor Camp, and many more services to the benefit of those in need in the community. She was particularly interested in adult literacy and helped to start Project Read. She was interested in women’s rights and served on the board of Planned Parenthood and started the local NOW chapter. Her ability to work with parties across the spectrum of political and economic entities to create a lasting legacy of care for all the members of the community is legendary.

Those who worked for her have praised her ability to bring out the best in themselves as she encouraged them to fulfill their potential. She listened to the concerns of those around her and had a keen eye for simple solutions. She had a soft heart and a ready tear, but she did not get mired in the emotional aspects of the job at hand. There are few social service organizations in the valley that did not benefit from her time and energy.

Phyllis was preceded in death by her mother, father, Sister Patricia Bristow, and son Bruce James Pulfer. Her husband Robert Pulfer died two days following her passing. She is survived by daughters Janet Velez (Ray), Marianne Pulfer (Richard Thurston), Kathleen Burgess (Aaron) ,and Nadean Pulfer (Irving Rosenberg), and a son, Ross Pulfer. She dearly loved her 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren who will remember her fondly.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Teen Center/Blue Mountain Action Council (homeless shelter for teens) or organization of your choice, through Herring-Groseclose Funeral Home.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to

3 Replies to "Remembering Phyllis Feiring Pulfer, 1926-2016"

  • Meagan November 5, 2016 (5:56 pm)

    I wish I knew Phyllis. She is my idol!!! RIP sweet lady.

  • Vanessa November 6, 2016 (11:34 am)

    What an incredible life of love and service.  Rest In Peace. 

    • Eddie Rodriguez November 23, 2016 (11:04 am)

      Deeply saddened to learn of Phyllis passing. Every now and then, if we are really lucky, someone comes into our life, touches it, and we are never the same. Such was the case for me when I had the honor and privilege of working with Phyllis in he role as a member of the Washington State Human Rights Commission. Phyllis was one of the last great Lions of social justice. Beyond her dedication to fairness, her personal efforts on behalf of so many of the impoverished and disenfranchised will leave an imprint in our hearts and minds for years to come. They say one person alone cannot change the world. Not in Phyllis’ case. She truly did. Deepest condolences to her family and friends.  

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