Vivian Phyllis Winter Rich

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vivian Phyllis Winter Rich of rural Nevada, passed away at Mercy Hospital in Joplin, Mo., on Sept. 8, 2012, from complications of diabetes, with her family by her side. She was 78 years old at the time of her passing.

Phyllis was born on July 24, 1934, and was the daughter of Vivian Fredrick Winter and Geneva Lois Park Winter. She was born on her grandparents farm near Brownington, Mo., in the log cabin that her parents lived in.

In 1942, her parents bought a farm located east of Iconium, Mo., where the family relocated, growing crops and raising cattle. Phyllis attended her primary school years in a one-room school house at Iconium, Mo., riding her horse, Topsy, to school. She later rode the school bus to Osceola, Mo., and graduated from Osceola High School.

Upon graduation, she moved to Kansas City and worked for an insurance company. She joined the White Avenue Methodist Church in Kansas City, Mo., and became close friends with Doris Rich, sharing duties teaching junior high students in the youth ministry. Doris had a brother named Dale, who after six years of service had recently left the Air Force, choosing to return to civilian life. Phyllis's children grew up hearing the story of how an ice cube she slipped down the back of Dale's shirt led to romance, a wedding on April 8, 1956, and marriage of 51 years. To this union were born one son, Terry Dale, and three daughters, Twila Gale, Tenny Jo, and Tricia Lenore.

Soon after their marriage, Dale rejoined the Air Force and this began Phyllis's journey of traveling to many different parts of the United States and overseas. Places of Dale's military service during their marriage that Phyllis and the children were able to join him included Whiteman Air Force Base, Knob Noster, Mo.; Ben Guerir Air Force Base, Morocco; Hunter Field Air Force Base, Savannah, Ga.; Westover Air Force Base, Chiccopee, Mass.; and Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Va. Phyllis and the children also returned to Dale's hometown of Nevada, Mo., when his orders sent him overseas to Iceland, and Vietnam.

After Dale's retirement from the Air Force in 1970, they bought property south of Nevada and built their home. During those years, Phyllis was busy raising children, cattle, and collies. Phyllis later worked at Citizens State Bank as a bookkeeper for many years, retiring in 1985. Phyllis continued to stay busy after her retirement raising cattle, collies, and for several years, raising pure bred Persian cats. Phyllis was also an active member in the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Methodist Women.

Phyllis was an accomplished seamstress, gardener, and wonderful cook. She continued to grow a vegetable garden and maintain her extensive flower beds and orchard until her declining health no longer allowed her to. She was a country girl at heart and used organic gardening methods long before they became the preferred way to garden and protect the environment. She could identify every tree, flower, bird song, woodland critters, plants (weeds and crops), and was skilled at reading the many signs of nature during each season. She had great joy in raising cattle with Dale and she kept the extensive cattle records for the farm, tracing the beginning of their herd to the two head of cattle that she had raised on her parent's farm when she was a teenager in 4-H.

She loved to read and had a large selection of literature in her home. Her taste of reading ranged from Shakespeare, poetry, science, history, gardening, religion, and she always loved a good romance novel. A love of reading was passed on to all of her children.

Her girls grew up wearing many of the beautiful garments she sewed, and she passed down many of her sewing skills to her daughters and granddaughters. She also made sure that the home was filled with lots of music, ranging from classical, folk, Broadway musicals, and the top hits of the day. Phyllis was a busy mom when her children were growing up. She frequently served as Room Mother, Brownie leader, 4-H leader, Sunday school teacher, and Bible school teacher.

In 1996, after Dale's retirement from Crane Company, Phyllis and Dale contracted with Butterball and built poultry barns on their farm and with the assistance of their youngest daughter, Tricia and her husband, Tom, produced millions of pounds of turkey each year for market. In December 2006, Dale and Phyllis turned the farm over to Tricia and Tom, and the farm continues to operate raising cattle and turkeys.

Dale passed away, January 2008, and Phyllis continued to live in her home on the farm with her son, Terry, who helped her with the many household chores as her health continued to decline. Phyllis continued to live a full life as her health permitted, attending DAR meetings and attending weekly sewing and craft meetings at the church in preparation for the Methodist Women's annual bazar. She greatly valued the many friendships she had made in her life and travels. The women in her sewing group at church, DAR friendships, and the many friends that offered her rides to church and meetings were deeply appreciated and dearly loved.

Phyllis was proud of all of her children and their accomplishments, celebrating college graduations and careers, hobbies, and a growing family of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In her final years, she had great pleasure in watching the antics of her great-granddaughters, Lillyann, Kaytlin, and Aubriana. All of her grandchildren have fond memories of staying with grandma during the summers at the farm, helping with the cattle, turkeys, and gardening, and they always looked forward to her cooking and holiday treats.

Phyllis was preceded in death by her husband, Dale, and her parents. She is survived by her sisters, Judith Guthrie of Lowry City, Mo., and Eleanor Butterfield, rural Osceola, Mo.; and her brother, Gerald Winter of Botswana, Africa. She is survived by her children, Terry Dale Rich, of rural Nevada; three daughters, Twila Gale Bell, of Webb City, Mo., Tenny Jo Epperson and husband, Wayne, of rural Stella, Mo., and Tricia Lenore Peelen and husband, Tom, of rural Nevada. Grandchildren include Jared Bell and his wife, Kristy, of Carthage, Mo., Phillip Bell, of Webb City, Mo., Daniel Epperson of Fairview, Mo., Andrew Epperson and his wife, Jennifer, of Fairview, Mo., Nicole Epperson, currently attending Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo., Steven Peelen and Samantha Peelen of rural Nevada. Great-grandchildren include Lillyann and Aubriana Bell, and Abigail, Kaytlin and Andrik Epperson. Phyllis is also survived by numerous cousins, nieces and nephews, that she maintained contact with to ensure the connection of family was not broken. Phyllis looked forward each year to the annual Winter Family reunion held in Clinton, Mo., spending time with many of her first cousins that she grew up with.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, Sept. 13, at 2 p.m., at the United Methodist Church in Nevada, with the Rev. Linda Pagel officiating and a celebration of Phyllis's life presented by her family with scripture reading, music and video presentation of her life. Visitation will be Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Ferry Funeral Home in Nevada, from 7--8 p.m. Internment will be at Newton Burial Park following the funeral service.

Pallbearers will be her grandsons, Jared and Phillip Bell, Daniel and Andrew Epperson, Steven Peelen, and Jason Fleener, a special family friend that she always considered her adopted grandson. Honorary pallbearers will be Wayne Epperson, Tom Peelen, Terry Fleener, Bill Denman, and Doug Brown

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