Longtime teacher, she cherished family

August 07, 2005|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Anna Margaret Phillips, who died July 28 at the age of 66. Her obituary appeared in the July 31 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Dale Beard said he always had been told if you want to know what the daughter will be like when she gets older, look at the mother.

"I knew when I first met Anna Phillips, I just had to marry her daughter," son-in-law Dale said. "She (Anna) accepted me 100 percent and made me feel special."

Anna Margaret Phillips passed away July 28 at her home at the age of 66, almost six years after her husband, Ronald F. Phillips, died. Both were educators in Washington County.


Making people feel special was one of Anna's leading characteristics, according to her children, Julie Beard and Scott Phillips, her colleagues, neighbors and even her youngest grandchildren.

"She helped us clean up," said 3-year-old Quinn Phillips about how her Nanny pitched in when there were toys to put away.

Grayson Phillips, 6, remembers going to Toys 'R' Us with his grandmother.

Polly Martin, who taught school and traveled with Anna, stopped by to comfort the family and spoke of Anna's all-consuming love of children and learning.

"Anna and I always bought children's books on our trips," Polly said. "She often said that children can never have enough books."

Scott said his mother was all about family.

"Every minute she wasn't working, mom was with us," he said.

At the age of 2, Scott developed spinal meningitis and spent 10 days in the hospital fighting for his life. He thinks he and his mother became very close after that because he said she somehow blamed herself for his illness.

"Even when I was in high school and I broke my leg and was in the hospital for six weeks, she came every day after school and stayed with me until 8 p.m.," Scott said.

Both Julie and Scott said they were amazed at how accomplished their mother was. She got everything done and kept up her appearance at all times.

"I have three children and I work," Julie said. "Mom never had dishes in her sink ... I always tried to measure up, but couldn't."

Born in West Virginia, Anna was a student at Fairmont State College - now Fairmont University - when she met Ron Phillips, who also was studying there.

"Mom was homecoming queen and daddy was president of the student body," Julie said. "They were a match."

They married in 1959 and began their teaching careers. Anna taught a total of 38 years, 32 of them at Pangborn Elementary School.

"Anna taught kindergarten and I taught first grade at Pangborn," said Donnagean Talbert, a longtime friend and colleague. "She was a delight and a very dedicated teacher."

When she wasn't teaching, Anna gave her all to her roles as wife and mother of two, and later grandmother of five. In the time left over, she traveled.

Kay Parsons, Scott's mother-in-law, often took trips with Anna, including one to Ireland.

"In the center square of a little town, we got ice cream and just sat and watched the world go by," Kay said.

Scott's wife, Karen, said Anna always was up for anything.

"Teaching was an extension of her life, but wife and mother was her cherished role," Karen said.

As her illness began to limit her activities, Anna was aided by her family and friends, as well as by Cindy Panicola, a caregiver.

"Cindy was a godsend," Julie said. "She came in and cared for mom and helped us through the process as well."

Friend Donna Hovermill often was at Anna's side as was next-door neighbor Eileen Renwick, who prepared many meals, Scott said.

When their mother passed away, Julie called it a gentle experience.

Looking back, Julie said she once had an opportunity to teach with her mother for six weeks and she got to see a different side of her.

"I was amazed at her handling of difficult children and how they respected her for it," Julie said.

Scott smiled as Julie spoke about that quality of their mother.

"She brought out the best in the worst," he said.

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