Phyllis T. Friend
February 15, 1929 – November 17, 2019
Phyllis T. Friend, 90, passed away peacefully on the morning of November 17, 2019, in Omaha, after a sudden decline in health. She was surrounded and supported by her loving family and caregivers during the last days of her life.
Phyllis was born February 15, 1929, in Niobrara, Nebraska, the daughter of Adolf J. and Hildegard C. (Becker) Tielke. She graduated from Stuart High School in Stuart, NE, Class of 1946. Following graduation, she worked as an office administrator in dental offices located in Grand Island, NE, and then in Sioux City, IA. In Sioux City, Phyllis met the man to whom she’d be married for 64 years, Arnold Friend. Together, they raised a family of four children. While their children were young, Phyllis was a stay-at-home mom. She eventually returned to work as an office administrator with State Farm Insurance, where she worked until retiring in 1997.
Any description of Phyllis must include the phrase ‘young at heart’.
When Phyllis was in her late 60’s, her oldest sister asked ‘What is it like to have a teenager for a mother?’. For example, when Phyllis was in her early 40’s, she taught her children to walk on stilts. She did this by demonstrating how to do it, complete with running and dancing while on the stilts. Phyllis was prone to breaking into song (and she could sing!), or dancing to music on the radio or television. She loved to prank her youngest brother Robert during her annual trips home to Stuart, NE.
Phyllis was a great story teller, as most ‘young at heart’ people are. She grew up in a large farm family during the Great Depression, and her experiences growing up were the source of many stories. She liked to share her stories in the evenings while doing the supper dishes, Phyllis washing, and one of her four children drying. Her stories were fascinating, they were funny, and her children loved hearing them. Phyllis was also was known for her outstanding fried chicken, her cinnamon rolls, her amazing variety of Christmas cookies, and her annual spring house cleaning process (it was exhaustive and exhausting). She was a fine counselor; someone who’d listen, and who’d let you know you were not alone. Phyllis was there and ready to help when needed
Phyllis enjoyed reading and working crossword puzzles, and she was very good at any type of word game. Phyllis was creative and had a knack for sketching. If one of her children needed help with a poem, or the ending to a story, or with a drawing for school, Phyllis would help find the right words to complete the poem or close the story. She could tweak a drawing so that an object looked like the object it was supposed to be.
Even as Phyllis declined physically, her spirit remained young. She still had a ‘lightness’ about her, and still smiled and laughed easily. One of the songs she liked to sing, and which described her very well was ‘Young at Heart’. I think we all know the words. ‘Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth to be young at heart. For as rich as you are, it’s much better by far to be young at heart.’ Phyllis was rich indeed.
In addition to her parents, Phyllis was preceded in death by her beloved husband Arnold, her sisters Bernice (Addison) and Yvonne (Chaney), and brothers Gregory, Vernon, Howard, and Robert Tielke. Phyllis is survived by her brother John Tielke, daughter Robin (Larry) Brooks, son Jeff (Gloria) Friend, and daughters Julie (Dan) McConnell and Melanie (Chris) Fox, eleven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
VIGIL SERVICE: Friday, November 22nd, 9:30am, St. Gerald Catholic Church (9602 Q. St.) followed by a MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL at 10am. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to St. Croix Hospice.