Phyllis S. Whittier

By Orleans Hub Posted 3 September 2020 at 1:12 pm

Phyllis Whittier

Phyllis S. Whittier, 96, passed away peacefully at her home on Sept. 1, 2020 with her loving family by her side.

Born July 26, 1924 in Kendall, Phyllis was the daughter of the late Geoffrey and Mary Symonds. She grew up in Kendall and was a graduate of Kendall Central Schools, having earned the honor of valedictorian. She married Hiel E. Whittier on Feb. 4, 1945, and together they raised three sons, Geoffrey L., David H., and Hylan R. Whittier.

Phyllis was a very loving and devoted wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother. She was very proud of her sons and their families as well as their many accomplishments.

In so many ways, Phyllis was ahead of her time. She was open-minded and accepting, and she loved all people.

Phyllis was a gifted musician, playing piano, accordion, guitar and Hawaiian guitar, and singing beautifully. She was an extremely talented self-taught artist. She excelled at counted cross stitch, knitting, crocheting, painting, sewing, calligraphy and drawing. She loved to play games and cards. An avid reader, Phyllis kept a record of every book she read, and she also scored each book. She had a tremendous sense of humor and created her “Chuckle Books.” These notebooks were filled with jokes, cute pictures, sayings, quotes, newspaper articles, and other items that filled her with joy. Every time she found something that “tickled” her, she would clip it out and paste it in her latest Chuckle Book. Phyllis kept a diary for nearly all of her adult life. She was a very bright and witty woman who shared many sayings, jokes and stories with her family and friends. She loved babies, baby dolls and children.

To add to her list of accomplishments, when Kendall was celebrating its Sesquicentennial Anniversary, Phyllis researched and wrote the history of the town along with her mother, Mary Symonds. Phyllis was a wonderful cook and baker. She made many beautiful birthday desserts and cakes for her children and grandchildren. She also coordinated and illustrated a family cookbook filled with recipes, which her family and friends still enjoy and treasure.

Being extremely organized was one of Phyllis’ many talents. She meticulously labeled everything … even the hangers where she hung her clothes! Her handwriting was beautiful, and while she always joked that she could not spell, every letter, word and sentence she wrote displayed her perfect penmanship.

Phyllis was a very active woman who loved to travel, garden and exercise. She and her husband, Hiel, and their children took many trips with their travel trailer all across the United States. She reveled in nature’s beauty, and she always found something good in every situation. She loved to swim, square dance, ride bicycles and walk, and she even taught her granddaughter how to stand on her head! She was riding a bicycle and walking on the treadmill up until her 95th birthday.

Phyllis worked briefly at Kodak and also at Kendall Elementary School, where she was a teaching assistant. The children and staff all loved her and her sweet and caring demeanor. When she and Hiel retired, they moved to Florida, where they lived until Hiel passed away. Later, she moved in with her son, Hylan, who lovingly cared for her. Together they lived in Florida, North Carolina, and most recently Medina.

Phyllis was predeceased by her parents; her brothers, Victor, David and Willard Symonds; her husband, Hiel E. Whittier (1995); her sons, David H. Whittier (1989) and Geoffrey L. Whittier (2020); and her grandson, Scott Whittier (2012).

She leaves behind a grateful and blessed family, including her beloved son and caregiver, Hylan R. Whittier; brother, Brian (Donna) Symonds; daughters-in-law, Connie (David) Whittier and Joan (Geoffrey) Whittier; grandchildren, Kellie (Ron) Spychalski, Thad (Kim) Whittier, Kevin (Sarah) Whittier, and Rene Whittier; great-grandchildren, Dave (Doug Weyand) and Dan Spychalski, Paige and Thad Whittier, Taylor (Melanie Huey) and Shawn Whittier, Brayden and Sawyer Whittier, Travis and Jenna Sietmann; great-great-granddaughter, Rayleigh Whittier; many nieces, nephews and special friends.

During the last year of her life, Phyllis was under the care of Hospice of Orleans, Inc. Her family would like to thank everyone at Hospice for the love, humor, and terrific care that they gave Phyllis. They would like to especially recognize and thank home health aide Flo Johnston and RN Alissa Anderson for everything they did to help Phyllis and her family. Their kindness, caring and expertise made a tremendous difference in Phyllis’ life, and she truly loved them both.

Family and friends are invited to attend Phyllis’ graveside service on Fri., Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. at Sandy Creek Cemetery, Murray. The Rev. Aleka Schmidt will preside. Following the service, family and friends will gather to eat, laugh, and share memories of Phyllis at Kellie and Ron Spychalski’s home.

Memorial gifts may be made to Hospice of Orleans, Inc., PO Box 489, Albion NY 14411, in lieu of flowers.

Phyllis’ arrangements have been entrusted to Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Inc., 21 West Ave., Albion NY 14411. To share a special memory of Phyllis, please visit