Our sunflower, Phyllis Wagner Stahl, ended her earthly adventures on Monday evening, June 24th, 2019. Born to Esther and George Wagner on Groundhog Day, 1937, at Lancaster General Hospital, Phyllis graduated from Manheim Township High School and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Gettysburg College.
Phyllis lived and loved a life of service as a pastor's wife, social worker, waitress, caregiver, and Stephen Minister. A former Sunday school teacher and Girl Scout troop leader, she volunteered in the 1970s teaching Gladys Rawlins's Green Circle diversity and inclusion curriculum in elementary schools in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. She was employed by Catholic Social Services, Cumberland County Children and Youth, and as a child welfare worker for the State of Delaware.
Phyllis waitressed at Howard Johnson's, Friendly's, Rehoboth Beach Country Club, and the Woolworth counter at Cinderella City in Denver. She sold taffy on the boardwalk at Dolle's in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. She was an epic Skee-Ball player who donated hundreds of stuffed animal Skee-Ball prizes to Toys for Tots at Christmas. She served as a caregiver for adults living with Prader-Willi syndrome and as a costume dresser for Gypsy at Westchester Broadway Theater.
Phyllis loved ladybugs, the beach, serendipity, Advent, diners, farmers markets, monarch butterflies, bargain shopping, mice, and sunflowers. Her picnic food, giftwrapping skills, confetti-filled cards, flower arranging, and holiday decorations were legend. She once appeared in Life magazine as a model for Trojan Boats. Phyllis never let being tone-deaf get in the way of her love of music and singing. She was always up for games: pinochle, Chinese checkers, Greed, and Five Crowns. Phyllis rode in an AIDS bike-a-thon in the 80s before they were cool. She marched for LGBT rights at the Millennium March on Washington alongside her two gay sons. On her way home from chemo treatment last year, Phyllis joined the "Families Belong Together" protest sponsored by Lancaster Stands Up.
Phyllis attended Grace Lutheran in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Marin Lutheran Church in Marin County, California, where she once accidentally served as president of the Marin Lutheran Church Women.
Phyllis loved and supported her three children – Juli, Joel, and Jonathan – who love and supported her in return. As a single mom, she put three kids through college, picking up graveyard shifts at HoJo's on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in addition to her full-time job as a social worker. Phyllis's family includes granddaughters Megan and Caitlyn Hughes, Joel's partner Mauritz, Jonathan's former partners – now family friends – Mike and Leisa, honorary grandkids Sophie and Tate, and dear friends from Lancaster, Shippensburg, Marin, New York, and all over. We'll miss Phyllis's unique humor, free spirit, sense of style, and her sentimental caring for others. Goodbye Mom, Maw, Nana, Felicia, Phyl, Mee-Maw, Phyllis.
Celebrations of Phyllis's life are planned for August 10th at 12:00 noon at Grace Lutheran Church, 517 N. Queen St., Lancaster, PA, and at Marin Lutheran Church in Corte Madera, CA, on August 24th at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, Phyllis asked that donations in her memory be made to Marin Lutheran Church Women at https://marinlutheran.org/mymlc/donate/ or Marin Lutheran Church Women, 649 Meadowsweet Drive, Corte Madera, CA 94925.
"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow."