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Phyllis Eileen Clark Prendergast would like for everyone to know that her work on earth is complete. On Monday, March 23, at 12:48 PM her Heavenly Father called her home. Included in welcoming her home were her parents, Clarence W. and Miriam Myrtle Overturf Clark Johnson, to whom she was born, the third of five children, in Elsmere, Nebraska on February 17, 1923. Welcoming her also were her brothers Clair LeRoy Clark, Chester Floyd Clark, and sister, Shirley Marie Clark Hughes. Her greatest joy was her reunion with her beloved husband, Dr. J L (Jack) Prendergast.
Phyl attended elementary school in Elsmere, Nebraska then graduated from Ainsworth High School in 1938. The next year she attended Business College in Grand Island, Nebraska. Just after WW II broke out her high school sweet heart, Jack, left Nebraska for California to take a welding course then found employment in the ship yards. Phyllis went out for a visit that quickly turned into a marriage on February 15, 1942, in Yuma, Arizona. Confessing that she had always wanted to have a church wedding, the couple remarried on May 2, 1942, with a gathering of friends and relatives, at the Little Church of the Flowers in Forrest Lawn Cemetery in Glenn Dale, California.
When Jack was drafted into the service, Phyllis followed him whenever she was allowed, often finding secretarial work. “It wasn’t always easy to arrive in town on a train or a bus where there were thousands of other wives looking for a roof over their head in the process of trying to follow their service connected husbands.” Jack received his discharge papers while stationed in Garden City, Kansas and was immediately sent to Fort Levenworth, so Phyl headed back to Ainsworth. “I left with our worldly belongings by car (we had a Ford) and I had a blowout and hit a bridge somewhere in Kansas. You couldn’t just buy a tire then, you had to have approval from the rationing board, so I had to stay overnight and plead with the rationing board for a tire to get the rest of the way home.”
Phyl worked while Jack attended Kansas City Osteopathic School. James (Jim) Clark, their first child arrived May 28, 1946. After Jack’s graduation, the young family moved to Denver, Colorado where Jack took his first position as “Dr. Jack”. Shortly after their second son, George Kirk, was born on December 17, 1951, they learned of a small town in Texas that was in need of a doctor. The family moved to Panhandle, Texas in the spring of 1952. In Phyl’s own words, “From now on, time flies”.
Not many years passed before the young family purchased the beautiful Craftsman house at 801 Park in Panhandle. Phyl spent the rest of her years in that home, always working tirelessly to restore and maintain the amazing, historical residence. It was here Dr. Jack and Phyl lived out their 57 years of marriage while endearing themselves to a grateful community.
For many years, Phyllis worked alongside her husband, standing in as a substitute nurse (especially after hours) and managed the doctor’s office and books. Along with Dr. Jack and many others she helped establish the Panhandle Country Club. It was there they enjoyed playing golf and dancing. Phyllis had many hobbies. as she not only mastered many different crafts, but also enjoyed sharing her knowledge. For several years she refinished vintage trunks and furniture with and for others. She had a good eye for antiques and furnished her home with many rescued treasures. Her latest hobby was creating stained glass masterpieces which she enjoyed sharing as gifts. Her recipes were legendary, and rarely was there a birth celebrated, or grieving family comforted without one of her delicious briskets, almond glazed angel food cakes, or rum infused pecan pies.
Not only an active member of her church, First United Methodist, where she was a favorite Sunday School teacher and dependable tower of strength, Phyllis was also dedicated to serving her community. She was a charter and lifetime member of the Atheneum Women’s Club, and enjoyed many years of volunteering for the Carson County Square House Museum. The Panhandle Chamber of Commerce named Phyllis Citizen of the Year in 1974.
Throughout her life, Phyllis continually practiced faith, wisdom, hospitality, grace, patience, creativity, humor, love, and generosity. By her example, she inspired four generations of women to live lives that love and honor God, value home and family, share encouraging words of wisdom, cultivate an appreciation for all blessings (even the ones disguised as challenges), and develop their unique, God given talents, being genuinely “others focused ”.
Phyl is lovingly survived by 2 sons, Jim and wife Patty of Saratoga Springs, NY and George of Kerrville, TX, 5 grandchildren, John Paul and wife Heather, Carrie and husband Jonathan Pagnussat, Ashley Prendergast, Laura Prendergast and husband Griffin Myer, and Hunter and wife Chelsea , 7 great grandchildren, a sister, Iris Dilldine Miller of Roswell, NM, a plethora of dear nieces, nephews and cousins from all over the country, and countless friends who have been blessed to know her beautiful heart.
Due to present circumstances, cremation was carried out by Minton Chatwell Funeral Directors and a celebration of her life will be held at a future date. The sons request memorial donations in Phyl’s memory be made to First United Methodist Church, PO Box 549, Panhandle, TX 79068-0549.
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