Born May 20, 1917 in Kamsack, Saskatchewan, Canada, Phyllis Heskin was the youngest of a family of eight.
Her father Peter Heskin farmed wheat on a section of land near Kamsack after emigrating from Bruflat, Valdres, Norway; her mother O’leah (Byfuglien) was also from Bruflat.
She was the youngest of five children.
When her mother died shortly after she was born, Phyllis was sent to Portland, ND to live with an aunt, Matea and Simon Kringlie and their five children where she lived until finishing college - spending summers with her birth family in Norquay, SK.
She graduated from Mayville State Teachers College in 1937 and taught elementary education for the next 40 years in North Dakota; and at Roosevelt and Jefferson Elementary in Spokane.
She loved teaching, was very creative in her teaching methods, and continued to tutor after retirement.
She would often meet former students who were well into their adult years who remembered her fondly.
Phyllis also volunteered for many years at the MAC, focusing mainly on teaching local history to school children through the museum’s travelling Trunk Shows.
Phyllis met her husband Roald, while at college, and raised four children together in a loving Christian home.
The family moved west in 1958 to be closer to Roald’s family in Seattle, but preferred the dryer climate of Spokane.
They were married 69 years.
Phyllis had many talents.
She sang beautifully from an early age, and participated in operettas and musical plays throughout her school years.
She also sang solos in church from the time she was six years old and was active in church choirs her entire life both vocally and as choir director.
Phyllis was also very active in church attending Our Savior’s, St. Marks, and Central Lutheran Churches over the years - singing in and directing choirs, as a member of Rebekah Circle, and preparing lefsa and other Christmas desserts for the church bazaars.
She enjoyed cross-stitching, knitting and reading, loved her Norwegian heritage, but her main pleasure came from family - children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren - making holiday gatherings, birthday and event celebrations always a delightful and heartwarming experience.
Phyllis was a fabulous cook and baked amazing desserts, especially the Norwegian recipes which she has passed down to her children and grandchildren.
Phyllis’s passing was preceded by her husband Roald; son Brad; her five siblings and one grandson Tanner Halvorson (age 5).
She is survived by children Rod (Diane) of Bellevue, Stephanie (Jerry) Gates, and Jacqui Halvorson of Spokane; grandchildren Ryan Halvorson (Mikie and their three children - Trace, Hayden and Rylan), Chelsea Halvorson (Bellevue); Russ Gates (Helena), Courtney Gates (San Diego), Heather Gates (Seattle); and Corbet Abrahamson (Spokane); and numerous nieces and nephews.
We celebrate a loving, selfless woman and a life well-lived.
We will miss her very much but find comfort in her strong faith in Christ Jesus.
A memorial service will be held February 8 at 1:00 PM at Central Lutheran Church in Spokane.
Phyllis is interred at Greenwood Memorial Cemetery.
Click here to comment on this story »