1930 ~ 2020
A private memorial service and celebration of life for Phyllis and her late husband, Vincent, will be held at a later date.
Donations in her memory may be made to The National Park Foundation (nationalparks.org)
Phyllis Marie Studer (née Schnebelt) died December 30, 2020. Her loving and caring husband, Vince Studer, had died October 19, 2020. Her death came just two weeks shy of her 91st birthday and 71st wedding anniversary. Although she suffered from many age-related maladies, the family believes that she really died of a broken heart.
Phyllis was born January 12, 1930 in Battle Creek, Michigan to Joseph Schnebelt and Alice Schnebelt (née Johnston). Phyllis was the eighth of ten and outlived all of her siblings: Phillip, Ruth, twins Lorene and Irene (Sister Paraclita), Joseph, Lawrence, Audrey, Eugene, and Donald. Most of her childhood was spent in Dexter, Michigan where her father owned a bakery.
Phyllis told many stories of her childhood, including skating for miles on the frozen Huron River and visiting the local cider mill. She spoke of weekly visits to her older sister, Lorene, who had contracted TB, where the younger children could only sit on the lawn and wave up to her window. Throughout childhood Phyllis helped with her special needs brother, Donald.
At nineteen, Phyllis took a job at the iconic Brown Jug restaurant in nearby Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan. She caught the eye of a handsome engineering student. Vince was a couple of years older, devilishly handsome, and sported a flattop. He also was from a large Catholic family and came from Chesaning, MI, seventy miles north. After dating through the autumn, Phyllis and Vince were married on January 9, 1950, three days before her twentieth birthday. The newlyweds moved to Dexter and lived above the sweet aromas of her dad’s bakery. They worked in the bakery as Vince continued his studies.
After Ruthie was born, Vince, a newly minted aeronautical engineer, was offered positions in Seattle, San Diego, and Fort Worth. The ever practical couple decided on Fort Worth because the job paid 10¢ an hour more. Vince went to Fort Worth first to start work and find a place to live. In July, Phyllis packed up baby Ruth and boarded a plane for Texas. With visions of a stockade fort and warm sunny skies, Phyllis had sold her winter coat to her sister. She spent her first Texas winter without a good coat. Well, almost “ever practical.”
Phyllis set out making a home and raising a large family. John was born during their first December in Fort Worth, followed by Evie 22 months later, and Joe 23 months after Evie. The twins, Paul and Mark, were born almost exactly four years after Joe. Vince designed and built his first of two homes between the births of Evie and Joe. It was spacious inside and out where the kids could run off energy and only get in a modicum of trouble.
Phyllis ruled the house chiefly from the kitchen. She excelled in creating dishes to feed a crew of eight but loved baking, especially at the Holidays like her Michigan family. Thanksgiving was her chance to put all her skills to use preparing a traditional meal with all the trimmings.
As a Mom, she was a confidant, doctor, disciplinarian, logistition, arbiter and chauffeur. She volunteered at our school, took us swimming, and instilled her kids with ethical decency, a helping attitude, manners (Yes, ma’am!), frugality, heavy doses of common sense, and so much more.
After the three eldest had flown the coop, Phyllis and Vince found a beautiful piece of land west of Fort Worth near Aledo, and Vince set about designing and building their second home. The entire family helped build the house (especially the twins, as they were in high school and still at home full-time). Shortly after their move, Phyllis won an election as the first mayor of the newly delineated community of Annetta North by a landslide margin of one vote.
The scenic Quail Ridge property became a refuge for them as well as their kids, in-laws, piles of grandkids, and a growing fourth generation. It offered beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife like deer, wild turkeys, songbirds, and an occasional bobcat.
Upon Vince’s retirement they traveled extensively, around the U.S., including Alaska and to Mexico. They annually spent treasured time with kids and grandkids in Georgia and New Mexico, and of course Texas. Several scenic cruises to the Alaskan fjords and the Rhine spiced things up. Phyllis also enjoyed bus trips to the casinos in Oklahoma.
Gigantic Thanksgiving feasts became a Quail Ridge tradition, usually with 30+ family members gathered. It was not just a meal but a multiday gathering with games of hide & seek, bingo, horseshoes, grandkids piling into the hammock, and conversations. Four generations spent many years and happy times around a table playing Farkle, Flinch, Scrabble, and myriad other games. To prepare for the Holidays, baking began in early November, including multiple 20-dozen batches of the old Schnebelt recipe for lebkuchen Christmas cookies, a highly anticipated and loved treat for all.
In the last several years age and medical concerns dictated a change. The very pleasant Westmore assisted living facility became their home. The inevitable turning of the tides brought an end to a wonderful love story and a final peace.
Phyllis is survived by:
Her six children: Ruth McNeil (Bruce), Dr. John Studer (Bridget), Evie Walberg (Gregory), Joe Studer, Paul Studer (Jane), and Dr. Mark Studer (Lori)
Her 20 grandchildren:
Ruth’s: Heather Nichter (Corbett), Kelly O’Connell (Shawn-deceased), Katherine Fergusson (Chris), Shannon McNeil (Beau Scroggins)
John’s: Eric Studer, Hana Shoup (Randy), Dr. Eva Studer
Evie’s: Vincent Coleman (Gretchen), Timothy Coleman (Kathleen)
Joe’s: Maj. Genevieve Studer, USMC (Maj. Royce ‘Trip’ Parrish, USMC), Benjamin Studer Van Beest (Dr. Dominique Van Beest)
Paul’s: Fr. John Studer LC, Patrick Studer (Dana), Emily Hendrix (Danny), Catherine Anderson (Scott), L. Cpl Anthony Studer USMC (fiancé MaryKate), Christopher Studer, Elisabeth Studer
Mark’s: Harrison Studer, Nina Studer
Her 13 great-grandchildren: Brian and Grace Nichter; Oliver, Vivian and Hattie Fergusson; Lainey and May Coleman; Teagan and Nolan Studer; Colette, Eleanor and Evette Hendrix; Samantha Studer Parrish; and another on the way!
The family wishes to thank Encompass Hospice and The Westmore staff (especially Lana) for their tender care of Phyllis.