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Obituary of Phyllis Jean Richter
Phyllis Jean Richter
East Lansing, Michigan
Phyllis began life in the colorful Rocky Mountains, and her heart never left. Though as an adult her adventurous spirit would lead her across the world, Colorado’s high country remained her North Star, guiding her back again and again to its crystal skies and alpine meadows. Her beloved mountains always called her home.
She was born where sunrise greets the Front Range but spent much of her youth even closer to the sun, in a small town near Grand Junction. She survived the Great Depression with her parents, Orville and Lillian, and her sister, Glennis. She learned to fish for Rainbows in the backcountry with her father, and she fostered what would later become a legendary green thumb in the vegetable gardens her mother cultivated. Her parents also nurtured her strong Lutheran reverence; the peace and joy she found in her faith remained steadfast comforts throughout her life.
Phyllis graduated from Dolores High School, Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing in Phoenix, and the University of Colorado. She then took a road even less traveled by women of that era by joining the Army Nurse Corps. She served her country for five years, including two years in France.
She left the army when she and her husband, fellow US Army officer William Richter, had their first child, daughter Christina. Daughter Cindy and son Lance soon followed, and the family spent many happy years embracing the exciting, dynamic lifestyle of the US Armed Service. Phyllis loved the exhilaration and constant learning that came from exploring new states and countries, and made new friends at every assignment. She pursued creative passions with equal enthusiasm, knitting and sewing many of her family’s clothes, as well as becoming a proficient calligrapher. She found tremendous joy in living fully and caring for her family.
But the desire to help others – which had first led her into a nursing career – continued to beckon, so Phyllis returned to full-time nursing in midlife. She cared for paralysis patients in Tampa, Florida, and later worked at an international hospital in Saudi Arabia, caring for patients with eye diseases. She was renowned for her kindness and compassion, as well as her diligent work ethic.
In late life, her North Star called her home one last time. The final years of her healthful life were spent back where her life had begun, in the mountain majesty of Colorado’s high country, where she delighted in daily walks in the forest and the panoramic vistas she had cherished since childhood. Before joining the Lord in Heaven, she spent her final healthy years in the place she always felt was the next closest thing.
Her family and friends are bereft of her laughter and her love. Phyllis is survived by her sister, Glennis; her children, Christi, Cindy, and Lance; and her grandchildren, Caroline, Nick, Marcus, and Christopher.
A celebration of Phyllis' life will be held at a later date, when her family may gather safely.