Phyllis Carbone passed away on Tuesday, January 24 in Des Moines, Washington. She was 89.
Phyllis was born in 1933 in Homestead, Montana to LeRoy and Hazel (Norby) Johnson. She spent her early years on her family’s farm near Homestead on land her father leased from the Fort Peck Indian Tribe. She shared happy memories of life on the farm, her dog Teddy and the farm hands who became part of her extended family.
Phyllis’s father died when she was 12, and she moved with her mother and younger brother Winfield to the nearby town of Medicine Lake, where she attended junior high and high school.
Upon graduation, Phyllis received a scholarship to attend Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. She played clarinet in the college band and earned a degree in education.
Her first teaching job was in Helena, Montana. Gilbert Carbone, a staffer at the Montana Education Association, saw Phyllis’s photo on the cover of the fall MEA newsletter and asked a mutual friend to arrange a date. They met at a party following a high school football game. Two months later, they were married in the Homestead Lutheran Church on December 27, 1957.
The couple moved to Eugene, Oregon, so that Gil could pursue a master’s degree at the University of Oregon. Phyllis taught P.E and Health at Cottage Grove Junior High.
When the first of their four daughters was born in 1961, Phyllis left teaching to devote herself to child-raising and family. Their small red cinder block house in Everett, Washington was the scene of many birthday celebrations for the girls, each featuring an elaborate animal-shaped cake made by Phyllis.
After a brief stint in Boise, Idaho, the family settled in Olympia, Washington in 1968. Phyllis was involved in the girls’ schools, attended all their athletic events and band concerts, cooked many wonderful meals, and somehow found time to pursue her interest in painting and print-making.
At age 40, Phyllis went back to school and earned a master’s degree at Pacific Lutheran University. After teaching at the local community college and working at state agencies for several years, she landed a job that was perfectly aligned with her skills and experience as an educator and mother: coordinator of the Washington State Dairy Princess (later Ambassador) program.
For the next 10 years, Phyllis mentored and nurtured young women as they traveled the state, visiting schools, county fairs, and other events representing the dairy industry and educating people about food and nutrition. She became a second mother to each Dairy Ambassador and kept in touch with many of them over the years.
Phyllis was a fantastic chef, and made many gourmet meals for family gatherings. Her holiday feasts were especially memorable. At Christmas, she baked multiple types of cookie and her famous English almond toffee. Making Norwegian lefse was an annual event with her daughters at Christmastime.
In 2017, Phyllis and Gil moved to a senior residence near their eldest daughter in Des Moines, Washington, where Gil could receive memory care. Phyllis joined Gil in the memory care unit in 2021, and the family commemorated their 65th wedding anniversary there on December 27.
Phyllis is survived by her husband, Gilbert; daughters Catherine Carbone Rogers and husband Ken, Carol Carbone, Carmen Andonian and husband Michael, and Christine DeBell and husband Jeff; son-in-law Chris Jellison; and 10 grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned for this summer in Olympia.. The family has suggested that memorial donations be made to the Judson Park Benevolent Fund through theHuman Good Foundation.