Cover photo for Phyllis Smith Kauffman's Obituary
Phyllis Smith Kauffman Profile Photo
1932 Phyllis 2022

Phyllis Smith Kauffman

January 9, 1932 — May 21, 2022


Phyllis Ann Smith Kauffman

Bethany, MO, Jan 9, 1932 – Madison, WI, May 21, 2022

How in the world could a Type A personality extravert manage to live happily, peacefully, and successfully with a type B personality introvert for six+ decades? And vice versa? It took two to tangle, resulting in a beautiful relationship that yielded untold dividends through love, compromises, sacrifices, and genuine dedication, often difficult to imagine or totally appreciate.

Phyllis Ann Smith Kauffman was the benevolent, and her husband Robert the benefactor. She was the only child of loving parents, Thelma and Ernest, but seldom demanded such special attention or privilege that an “only child” expected. Adoration and unequalled dedication and devotion to those loving parents never waned over this entire relationship. Bob often considered himself “second fiddle” when he attempted to measure up to Ernest’s remarkably stable and resilient standard.

Making close friends in her youth was of paramount importance, resulting in the development of four life-long relationships – Susan, Nina Jean, Meredith, and Liz. Phyllis contributed to the “glue” that gave eternal life to its steadfastness. Through thick and thin, they learned to face life’s challenge together and always made lemonade out of lemons. Even though she excelled in intelligence, being first in her high school, and later being honored as a Phi Kappa Phi student at Iowa State, not once did she ever superiorly reveal her expertise as meritorious over those of the other four, or – for that matter – others. When those gals floated down the Ohio River together, they behaved as care-free sisters taking a boat ride, as well as when they gathered for get-togethers at her Missouri farm, they relished and assured themselves that no relationship could exceed that eternal bond they purposely forged.

Earlier, at the beginning of marriage, after conceiving Rebecca, and when Bob had started UW Graduate School, very suddenly Phyllis was diagnosed with lung disease. She didn’t know what, but was advised it was either cancer or TB. She hoped for TB and got her wish. For the next year, she depended on parents to care for Rebecca, while she made efforts at Lake View Sanatorium to conquer TB – and did so successfully, never to deal with it again. Her recovery was complete, thanks to surgeon Anthony Curreri removing 2/3 of one lung.

Then, Phyllis and Bob conceived Ellen, which was the beginning of a new life after Rebecca had returned home from Missouri. Life’s challenges never disappeared and before long, Phyllis and Bob were helping their daughter Ellen with raising two sons. This experience surely helped both grandparents remain young and vibrant for the next two decades. It was one of the most rewarding times of her life, and for the lives of Alex and Ian, too. They deeply appreciated her care, concerns, and intellectual guidance. Now, as adults, in loving tribute to her, they are helping manage the Missouri family farm. These are memories that Ellen, Alex, Ian, and Bob and Phyllis, will cherish forever.

Phyllis’ final challenges were osteoporosis, clinical fibrillation of the heart, and a terrible fall over misplaced boots in a dark kitchen. She spent time in UW Hospital the night of the Packer’s last Superbowl victory. From then on, poor health demanded much more and finally claimed her at 90 years to eternity, where she may be in delightful communication with Rebecca.

When trying to summarize this wonderful life, words can only make some effort to reveal her personality and numerous talents. Humbleness, Reading, Kindness, Thriftiness, Intelligence, Attractiveness, Concern for the welfare of others, and so on, set her apart from others, but it was her love for others that deserved the highest priority. She touched lives wherever she landed – school, church, league of woman voters, grocery store and the hospital where most of her last year found her. She held fast to the belief that all folks were equal, that everyone should win and never lose. This was sure to happen since love is what it really takes! In every last conversation she had with others it always ended with “I love you!”

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm, Saturday, June 4, 2022 at Oakwood Village Resurrection Chapel in Madison, WI.

Please share your memories at

Cress Center

6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Phyllis Smith Kauffman, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Starts at 2:00pm (Central time)

Oakwood Village West in Resurrection Chapel

6205 Mineral Point Rd, Madison, WI 53705

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 0

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree