It’s with heavy hearts that we share the news that our beloved mom and grandma, Phyllis Ouellette, gave up her sweet and loving spirit in the early morning hours of November 16, 2018. How do we convey in just a few paragraphs such a life well lived? She loved unconditionally, gave generously and lived a life of unwavering faith. Phyllis Maxine was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Neil and Ann (Ohman) Bradley on June 22, 1928. Four years older, her sister Jeanette (Jean) was her protector and best friend growing up, fighting many battles for her on the playground. After the stock market crash of 1929, the family returned to live on the family farm near Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. Though she lived on a farm, she loved being stylish. She was often teased about needing to put on lipstick to go milk the cows. She continued these habits throughout her life and even at age 90 was always carefully dressed down to matching shoes and jewelry.
In the early 1950s, Phyllis was persuaded by her cousin to move to Great Falls where they experienced many carefree and fun adventures. She was introduced to a handsome young man named Ben Ouellette who eventually convinced her that he was worthy of her; they married on Sept. 4, 1954, in Great Falls. Just 10 months later they welcomed their fiery haired daughter Cyndi into the world. About 16 months later their shy little Lynne joined her. Fourteen months later bulldozer Jeff was born. They took a short break from having babies before welcoming gentle Tom to complete their family in 1961.
Phyllis was a bank teller for many years, retiring from First National Bank as Head Teller. She was a stickler for a balanced checkbook and kept meticulous records. She was a giver of practical gifts, but always with great love. She lived by the motto, “The good Lord helps those who help themselves”.
Loading up the family into their old Shasta pull trailer, the Ouellette’s spent almost every summer weekend camping at Georgetown Lake, Hauser Lake or Lake Mary Ronan. She was a lover of a good roaring fire, good food and crazy card games which were always played for money. Fish feared her. Oh, the fishing stories we could tell.
Dancing was a pastime she and Benji enjoyed and they were fun to watch on the dance floor. After retirement, they traveled each winter to soak up the Arizona sun with her sister Jean and hubby Dick and they always managed to have an adventure or two and hilarious stories to tell afterwards. Whether it was a once in a lifetime trip to Italy, a cruise to Alaska or trips to Hawaii, she and Ben lived life to the fullest.
She was also a gardener, a canner, was a meticulous seamstress and embroidered beautifully. Phyllis had a great sense of humor and delighted in a good joke. She loved telling slightly naughty ones though she often messed up the punchline. She enjoyed it when her sons-in-law teased her and she teased them right back.
Mom was committed to the sanctity of life, all life, and she started the Right-To-Life movement in Hamilton. She put her money where her mouth was, raising thousands of dollars for poor mothers to give them a hand up. She always treated those struggling women with dignity, helping countless mothers overcome hardships. She was honored with the Right-To-Life volunteer of the year award for her efforts, an award she was humbled and honored to receive.
Phyllis had a generous heart and gave selflessly to those in her community who were in need. She always saw the good in people, no matter how hard they were to love. She had a sweet and trusting nature but also had a way of respectfully standing up for herself when needed. She never gave up on anyone or anything in her life.
Mom was devoted to the Catholic Faith and attended Sunday Mass and daily Mass. She was a believer in prayer. She loved and was well-loved by her many devoted church friends. A yearly highlight was a visit to St. Gertrude’s Retreat Center with her friends, where they enjoyed a weekend of prayer, fellowship, and great food.
She will be forever missed by her sister Jean, Cyndi (Tom) Steigers, Lynne (Al) Gilfillan, Jeff (Suzy) Ouellette and Tom Ouellette. Those who are honored to call her Grandma are Chelsea (Scott), Rachel (Bryson), Annie (Jeremy), Allyse (Ethan), Dylan, Stephanie (Cody), Shelby, Hannah, and Libby. She earned the title of “Apple Grandma”, bestowed on her because of her famous apple pies, by great-grandchildren Lane, Anderson, Dylan, Bennett, Witt, Addi, Lilly, Avery, and Ember. She is expecting another great-grandchild in the spring. Her bonus daughter Vicky Larson will miss her as well. She is also survived by her great-granddaughter London of Los Angeles.
Welcoming her to heaven are her parents, husband Ben and cherished grandson Dylan. We can only imagine their reunion.
Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, at St. Francis Catholic Church in Hamilton; Reverend James A. Connor will be presiding.
Please send donations to St. Francis Catholic Church P.O. Box 593 Hamilton, MT 59840.
Brothers Mortuary and Crematory are honored to care for the family. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at brothersmortuary.com.