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.
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