With a remarkable heart of gold and a forever fun-loving spirit, Phyllis Ilene Bear lived a full life. She was a caring wife, a loving mother, and a cherished grandmother and friend to many. It is hard to say goodbye to such a good soul.
Phyllis made her life's debut in the 1920’s. This decade was a time in history during which Americans were relieved from World War I and were looking to spark the excitement life could potentially offer again. New styles in clothing, music, and entertainment were broadly explored. Prohibition was in full effect, and bootleggers were busy while many citizens frequented speakeasies to quench their thirst. In 1921, America’s favorite pastime of baseball made the news with Babe Ruth’s career home run record break of 138 - a record he held for nearly forty years. Also in baseball news, the Chicago White Sox baseball team was accused of throwing off the World Series while the scientific-historic figure, Albert Einstein, received the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Closer to home, in Coesse, Indiana, Paul and Margaret (Miller) Walker were excitedly expecting a precious baby. Phyllis Ilene was born on February 23, 1921. Much of her childhood free time was spent with her grandparents on their farm. Miller's Farm provided Phyllis and her sister the experience of many wonderful adventures every day. Her parents raised dogs, so Phyllis was always around the joy of puppies. Her father also grew peonies, and as she helped him, she developed a green thumb that would last her a lifetime. Her family was equally devoted to their faith and attended Coesse United Methodist Church regularly. When she was not fulfilling chores around the house or her spiritual needs, she played on the basketball court with her classmates at Coesse High School. She grew up being around basketball with her dad as a referee. In 1938, she earned her diploma and started working at Wollen Mills. Following this position and during WWII, she worked at G.E.
Once her adult life was on track, it was time for love. It was on a blind date that Phyllis met the man who took her heart in his hand for the rest of time. Edwin J. Bear had served in the United States Navy during WWII, and they celebrated their wedding at her family's church on July 31, 1946.
The newlyweds settled into their new life together in Allen County near Huntertown where his family farmed. Phyllis naturally took to becoming a homemaker to help Ed. Before too long, they welcomed the birth of two sons, Dennis and James. After their family was complete, they moved back to the Coesse area.
As the family grew up together, they would travel to Wisconsin and go fishing around Long Lake in the summers. She and Ed would look forward to Sunday afternoons when they would head to the theater to see the newly released movies. Sometimes, in the peaceful dark of the theater, one of their sons would be taking a nap on her lap.
Soon, Dennis and James matured to find adult lives and love of their own. This left Phyllis and Ed some time to spend together just the two of them again. Denny was stationed on the East coast with the Coast Guard, so they traveled there to see him as well as visit Norfolk and Yorktown, Virginia. Phyllis also enjoyed traveling with her cousins, for they created many good memories together. She always relished the time she spent with family. Eventually, the family grew again as Phyllis and Ed joyfully experienced the blessing of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Luckily, she lived within a few miles, so she was able to spend time with them regularly. With each grandchild, her heart grew with more love.
When Phyllis was not tending to her family, she used her green thumb to make her vegetable and flower gardens flourish. What they were unable to use immediately, she spent many hours canning for use in the cold winter months. All the canned produce helped create delicious meals, for Phyllis was a great cook.
In her free time, she would pass time reading books and listening to music. She also loved to sing - especially while she washed the dishes in the kitchen, but sometimes even when she watched television. She never shied away from the challenge of a friendly Euchre game amongst friends or family. The time she often spent working with her church's Women's WSCS group and helping with funeral dinners, charity work or arrangement of flowers was always of personal value to Phyllis.
Phyllis loved being in the outdoors, especially when it came to being in the snow. Most children sled when they are younger, but she continued to sled well into her sixties. She would call her family to them the “slope conditions”, giving them the hint to come by and join in the fun. With her love of basketball still, she enjoyed supporting family members who played in the local schools and watch IU basketball on TV. It was not uncommon for a granddaughter to get a call from grandma to chat about how the game was going and how good or poorly the coaching was!
With the passing of time, life began to create new challenges for Phyllis. On August 4, 2012, Ed passed away. When this became more and more apparent that her memory was slipping, she moved to Sycamore Village in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After 96 years of life here with us, Phyllis Ilene Bear passed away at 9:40 p.m., Monday, May 15, 2017. Her joyful spirit will be missed greatly. We will look to one another seeking comfort in the memories we shared with Phyllis, for she will never be forgotten in our hearts.
Survivors include her sons, Dennis (Sharon) Bear, of Columbia City and James (Debra) Bear, of Columbia City; grandchildren, Chris (Katherine) Bear, Jared (Sedina) Bear, Erin (Todd) Cook, and Elizabeth (Jason) Fryback; great-grandchildren, Madilyn and Makenna Cook, Lillian and Zachary Bear. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; brother, Jerry Walker; and sisters, Jean Mossburg and Lois Smith.
Visitation is 1-3 p.m. Sunday, May 21, 2017 at DeMoney-Grimes, a Life Story Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City. Funeral services are 10 a.m. Monday at the funeral home with Certified Funeral Celebrant Sharon Brockhaus officiating. Burial will follow at Eel River Cemetery, where she will be laid to rest next to her husband. Memorial gifts may be given in her memory to Coesse United Methodist Church. Visit www.demoneygrimes.com to send family condolences or sign the guest register book.