Phyllis June Solomon, of Moscow, and formerly of Port Townsend and Vancouver, Wash., was born Sept. 16, 1934, at the hospital in Anthony, Kan. She died August 31, 2019, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Her parents were Gene and Edith Brizendine, from Attica, Kan. Phyllis’s father was Editor and Publisher of the Attica Independent newspaper. Taking full advantage of his position, he published an article in which he described his new daughter as a “classy 1934 model Brizendine.”
Classy she was ... beautiful, dynamic and intelligent. During her undergraduate years, she studied at Washington State University, where she majored in business education. Phyllis subsequently earned a master’s degree in education from Whitworth College in Spokane and a doctorate in education from Seattle University.
Her first teaching position was at Moses Lake High School for the 1956-57 school year, where she was paid a whopping $3,600. She also taught at Deer Park High School, and at R. A. Long High School in Longview, Wash. Later, Phyllis was on the faculty at Edmonds Community College and Lower Columbia Community College in Longview, where she attained the position of Associate Dean of Instruction.
Phyllis fully enjoyed her opportunities to travel. While employed at Lower Columbia Community College, she and a colleague were part of a group that went to Russia, where they toured Moscow, Leningrad and Pushkin. For her, one of the highlights of the tour was a visit to a Russian school. Also included in her wide travels were trips to Cuba, Chile, the Bahamas, Spain, Belize, the Cook Islands and Israel.
Her life was not without its challenges. After three attempts at marriage, she was ready to admit her ability to choose a suitable life partner was impaired. Phyllis’s first marriage was blessed by the birth of a son, Gregg Kevin Farrelly. The entire family loved him deeply. Gregg’s death in a car accident in 1996 was a blow to all. His adorable children, Jennifer and Kevin, have helped to fill the void left by that loss.
Phyllis was a dedicated activist. While living in Port Townsend, Wash., she was recognized for her volunteerism with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Puget Sound. She also organized writing coaches at the Blue Heron Middle School who tutored sixth and seventh-grade students. Throughout her life, Phyllis sought opportunities to volunteer and serve others. She was also a passionate Democrat who took an active role in politics. While living in Vancouver, she served as a precinct captain and when her sister, Shirley Ringo, ran for Idaho State Representative, Phyllis generously helped in many ways, including door-knocking and working in the Democrats’ Headquarters.
Phyllis had many friends in locales that include Port Townsend, Vancouver and Moscow. She greatly cherished them all. She is survived by her grandchildren, Jennifer Humbert (Alex) and Kevin Farrelly (Cassie); great-grandchildren, Ruby and Theodore Humbert; Kennadee and Raegan Farrelly; her sister Shirley Ringo and brother-in-law John Ringo; nieces Stacy and Shelley Ringo and nephew Shawn Ringo; and great-niece Sadie Ringo. Her parents, Gene and Edith Brizendine, and son Gregg Farrelly preceded her in death.
Gene Brizendine’s description of Phyllis was precisely right. She was very classy indeed. She will be greatly missed.
A celebration of lfe will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse. The Rev. Elizabeth Stevens will officiate. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Idaho Rivers United, Planned Parenthood, a political campaign you believe Phyllis would support (Elizabeth Warren for President, for example) or a charity of your choice.