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1927 Phyllis 2022

Phyllis Turner

October 21, 1927 — May 22, 2022


Phyllis A. Turner passed away peacefully on Sunday, May 22nd.  It’s hard to imagine that Phyllis succumbed to anything at all, since for most of her life there was almost nothing that got the better of her. Tenacious to the end, she held on despite deteriorating health, with all of her cognitive faculties in order. On her last day, she was discussing current events while being read the Wisconsin State Journal and was very happy to learn of the U.S. women’s soccer equal pay agreement.

Phyllis was born on October 21, 1927 in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Ruby and Peter Dooley. She married Walter Turner in 1949 beginning a life together filled with family, adventure, and travel. They moved to Hinsdale, Illinois where they raised their three children, Andrew, Amy and Matthew. As her children grew, she supported their changing interests, from supporting her blind eldest son’s interest in the acoustics of different types of telephones; making the most coveted and elaborate Barbie clothes for her daughter and serving as a Girl Scout leader for her troop, taking them on backcountry backpack trips (rare back then); and traveling around the country to encourage her youngest’s early obsession with rock collecting. Phyllis and Walt were intrepid travelers and as long as they were able, regularly took trips to far-flung countries around the world. Their standout trip was one to visit their son Matthew and his wife Becky in a remote village in Mali, West Africa.

Phyllis was a graduate of North Side High School in Fort Wayne and received her B.A. from Indiana University (Bloomington). Later, she developed her interior design expertise through a graduate degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her craft skills ranged from stencil wall art to reverse paintings on glass to beading and finally to fiber art and crafts created from the wool of her flock of sheep she raised in Brodhead, Wisconsin.

Always an animal lover, the farm provided her an opportunity to not only have cats and dogs as pets but to raise chickens and sheep and even a hand-me-down horse. Through her spinning, dying, knitting, and felting she became a part of farming, spinning, and knitting communities in southern Wisconsin. Phyllis was a perfectionist and went all in on every project she embarked on. Likewise, when she got interested in beading, she made one-of-a-kind objects and sold them at local fairs, becoming a part of the beading community as well.

Phyllis was extremely loyal to and proud of her grandchildren. Honestly, they could do no wrong in her eyes. One of her often-expressed wishes in recent years was to have great-grandchildren. Luckily, she succeeded at this too and was overjoyed to have and meet two great-grandsons over the past two years.

Phyllis is survived by her daughter Amy (Larry) Whitehouse, son Matthew (Rebecca May); grandchildren Eliza, Mariama, Lucy and Liam, Caleb (Brooke), and Rachel; her two great-grandsons Henry and Louis; and her best cat Truman. She was preceded in death by her husband Walter, son Andrew, brother Richard, and sister Martha.

We would especially like to thank Rene Gibbs and her Agape Senior Services team for the wonderful caregiving on a very personal level. We also thank AGRACE hospice for keeping Phyllis comfortable and at home in her last years.

For information regarding a service, contact Matthew at

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service

3610 Speedway Road  Madison

(608) 238-3434

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


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