Phyllis M. Thurston

Honored by:Her Family
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Phyllis M. Thurston was born April 20, 1925 in Napoleon, Ohio to Carl C. and Marcella G. (Sheridan) Miller. She was graduated from Upper Sandusky High School, Upper Sandusky Ohio and attended Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She met her husband John when they both were employed at Battelle Memorial Institute. They subsequently lived in Saranac Lake, New York and came to Ames, Iowa with daughters Carol and Lisa in December of 1961.

After moving to Ames, Phyllis soon turned her love of people and concern for a better community into action by becoming involved in a number of Ames community projects. Well before the advent of numerous social agencies she was one of the organizers and pace setters in what was called the "Wednesday Morning Club" at Northminster Presbyterian Church where she and other woman befriended and taught nutrition and child rearing skills to mothers in under privileged families. This activity led to her service on the board of Directors for the Ames Community Day Care Center.

Phyllis has an active interest in Mary Greeley Hospital. She was president of the Mary Greeley Hospital Auxiliary in 1970. She was deeply involved in the early days of the Mary Greeley Hospitality shop and her family marveled at the hours she spent patiently recruiting volunteers to man the shop. Phyllis realized that if the shop was to grow that a full time staff would be required. She promoted this and today’s expanded and active hospitality shop verifies her vision. Phyllis was elected to the Mary Greeley Hospital Board of Trustees and served from 1975-1981. Her campaign for this office consisted of one unsolicited ad placed by a friend and yet she won by a large margin in every precinct. Her family is pleased the community recognized with their support this wonderful and caring person. Phyllis was the first woman to serve on the Mary Greeley Foundation Board starting a trend of participation by women that has been to the advantage of the Foundation. Recently she organized and chaired an "archive committee" that has gone through pictures and scrap books of clippings about people, events, and changes at Mary Greeley Hospital. Many of the scrapbooks were old and rapidly deteriorating. This information has now been copied and transferred to archival paper for preservation of the history of Mary Greeley Hospital.

Phyllis was on the Red Cross Board in the 1970s and on the Ames Senior Center Board from 1985-1986. From 1986 to 1988 she was on the Senior Center Advisory Board, serving as chairperson 1987-88. Phyllis continued her support of the senior center by serving on the Heartland Senior Services Board of Directors from 1988-1991. She is (1995) on the Heartland Senior Services Foundation Board.

She is interested in antiques and in addition to being a member of the Oakes Ames Chapter of Questers she served on the Friends of University Museums Advisory Board and was chairperson 1991-1992. In addition to board meetings a lot of hours were spent at the Farm House decorating for Christmas and helping at 4th of July celebrations.

Her good sense and judgment were recognized when she was invited to serve on two Ames Community School District Ad Hoc committees. She also was asked to serve as a representative of the public on a committee that reviewed research grants at Iowa State University when there was concern that some grants were too closely allied to military projects. Phyllis was the only woman on this committee. She thoroughly enjoyed the study and reading this task entailed, often on subjects that would be unfamiliar to anyone except scientists in specialized fields of study.

Phyllis thought Robert Ray an excellent Governor and consistent with her belief in putting convictions to work. She was co-chair with Rudy Van Drie in Story County for Governor Ray's last campaign and election as Governor.

While involved in the community she somehow always had time to care for and nurture her family. Phyllis loves books and games and spent hours reading to her children and playing games with them. This tradition of game playing continues with granddaughter Jessica Martin and includes not only hotly contested card games, but also competition at computer games. If her grandson John Robert Hotchkiss lived in Ames, rather than Austin, Texas, he too would be learning games from Phyllis. She is an ardent worker of cross word puzzles and continually astounds John with her ability to arrive at early solutions of "Wheel of Fortune".

Her immediate family, husband John and daughters Carol Popelka and Lisa Hotchkiss can think of no one that deserves more to be included in the Carrie Chapman Catt memorial. In the Carrie Chapman Catt tradition she has made a difference in her community. If we could we would pave the entire walk and dedicate it to Phyllis M. Thurston, a person truly devoted to betterment of her family and community.

Submitted on 6/19/95