Phyllis Robey

Phyllis Prichard Robey, age 84 of Ellsworth, WI, passed away December 14, 2020 at the Comforts of Home in River Falls, WI. Phyllis was born June 4, 1936 to Frank and Clara (Swart) Prichard. She was raised and attended school in Maiden Rock until a house fire, at which time the family moved to rural Ellsworth. There was another house fire there. At age 10 her mother and father divorced and Phyllis was left with the household duties of cooking, cleaning and caring for her brothers. She always had colorful stories to tell of their farm life and some of the mischief they found as cheap entertainment. One example was that one brother steered the car while Phyllis ran the foot pedals, both being too short to do it alone! Life was a struggle financially but her dad had a sense of humor to make things better.
She met Donald Robey while riding in a hearse which was used as a bus for Sunday school. They were married at the Ellsworth Presbyterian Church on April 27, 1957. They had 3 sons, Phillip, Mark and John. Don worked hard at Anderson Windows to support his family and Phyllis worked at home to raise their boys. Their small home did not have many conveniences and Phyllis talked of carrying water in and out for clothes washing, and lots of it with four males who worked on a lot of dirty projects. They raised beef cows and chickens. They held neighborhood sliding parties because they had a great hill out back.
They adored their grandchildren; Chris, Jennifer and Laura. They never did “babysitting” but instead had playdates. They went shopping at thrift stores, ate at McDonalds and in later years Culvers and the West Wind. Phyllis loved looking at girly things because she had all brothers and all sons, so it was a new and fascinating experience. Jenny and Laura were well dressed little girls! There were trips to Uncle Butch’s cabin, trips to Duluth and camping at Nugget Lake.
Phyllis was a very good cook. She gave her granddaughters lessons on making chocolate chip cookies. She was called on to make buns for family occasions. She made the best rhubarb pie, with just a pinch of cinnamon. When they camped at Nugget Lake Don, Jenny and Laura would go berry picking and Phyllis would make a pie for them in their camper.
Phyllis loved company and loved conversation. She always had lots of stories to tell and spent time on the telephone spreading news and happiness, and was an asset to many prayer chains. She and Don were given nicknames, he as Donald Duck and she was his “Quacker”.
Her faith life was very important to her. First at the Presbyterian Church in Ellsworth and later at Bethel Covenant Church. She taught Sunday school and later was the youth group’s “Grandma”.
When Don developed arthritis they spent winters in Arizona. They enjoyed their time there and while Don hiked, Phyllis took a writing class in which she did very well. They saw a lot of the western US on their trips to and from Arizona. They also made trips for several years to a Bluegrass festival in Norris, Tennessee. We teased her about loving her “Hillbilly” music.
In 2002 they decided to replace the old small house with a new one. It was a project that made them both 10 years younger! Don planned every detail and Phyllis decorated it with all of her possessions. They now had a large enough space for more entertaining and hosted a Bible study group for many years. The youth group from church met there sometimes. The granddaughters and friends were overnight guests during the fair so they were closer and could get there earlier. There were many overnight guests from out of town. We celebrated Christmas there around a huge Christmas tree. It was an annual event for Jenny and Laura to help decorate this huge tree with so many ornaments there was no green showing! Sometimes her huge collection of teddy bears was added all around like a tree skirt.
Phyllis was a back seat, or should I say passenger seat driver. She gave Don lots of directions, most of which he either pretended not to hear or ignored! But they usually got where they were going. Sometimes it just took longer and involved many country roads. These routes were called “Robey Shortcuts”.
She lost her beloved Don in 2009 and life changed a lot. She became more independent and did well on her own living in the home she was so grateful for. A car accident about 3 years ago was hard to recover from. A couple falls added to her problems. She was in various hospitals and care centers during the last year. Although she never had it, Covid 19 added challenges and loneliness.
She is survived by her sons, Phillip, Mark and John (Monica); brother, Butch James Prichard of New Richmond; grandchildren Chris, Jennifer and Laura; great granddaughter Rocklyn; four sisters-in-law, Donna Gilbertson of Ellsworth, Audrey Robey of Rice Lake, Beverly Prichard of Ellsworth and Evelyn Robey of Hastings; brother-in-law, Harland Gilbertson of Ellsworth; a niece and several nephews.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Donald; brothers, Kenny and Marvin; daughter-in-law, Marilyn; nephew, Franklin; brothers-in-law, Gordon Robey and James Robey; her parents, Frank Prichard and Clara Schneider; numerous friends and many in her church family.
Funeral services for Phyllis will be held 2:30 p.m. Sunday, December 20, 2020 at Bethel Covenant Church in Ellsworth, with Pastor Todd Spieker officiating. Use of masks and social distancing practices will be required. A private family goodbye will be held just prior to the service at church. The service will be livestreamed at Phyllis will be laid to rest with her husband at Bethel Covenant Cemetery.
Funeral services are entrusted to the O’Connell-Benedict Family Funeral Home of Ellsworth (715) 273-4421.


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