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Phyllis Miller, 93, died peacefully in her sleep Wednesday night, May 24, at the Rennes Health and Rehab Center in Appleton.
The daughter of Henry and Elva (Goetz) Wolf, Phyllis grew up in Hartford, Wisconsin, where she graduated from Hartford High School. She met Jerome "Jerry" Miller from nearby Iron Ridge, and the two married on July 21, 1951.
The couple had three children: Thomas Jerome, born in 1957; Toni Marie, born in 1960, and Terri Lynn born in 1964.
Jerry worked in a feed mill in Mayville, WI, and besides being the backbone of raising three young children, Phyllis worked as a bookkeeper in an Iron Ridge bank and worked at a Mayville canning factory. In addition, she would paint the names of businesses, addresses and phone numbers on truck doors. In the family driveway, she would use yardsticks and pencils to lightly outline the block letters and numbers on the doors, and then meticulously fill them in with a small paint brush. That was just a hint of Phyllis’ artistic ability. She loved to draw small portraits of animals or flowers.
In 1966, a Ralston Purina salesman, Armon Fischer, approached Jerry and Phyllis about purchasing a feed mill in Ripon. It was a major decision for the couple. It meant moving away from their small-town family and friends, owning a business and the debt, to a town where they knew no one. They took the bold step and did it, knowing it was an opportunity to provide their three young children with better lives.Phyllis kept the business books, often staying up late at night after the kids were put to bed. Being the lone woman at the feed mill, she eventually fit in, giving whatever grief she received from the smiling farmers back at them. Through hard work and loyal customers, Ripon Feed Service was a success. The couple bought feed mills in Berlin and PoySippi.
The couple gradually blended in with the community. They moved from an apartment on Watson Street in downtown Ripon to a house on South Grove Street and in 1983 built their dream house across the street on South Grove. They loved going to The Spot restaurant on Friday nights. They also were able to travel via Ralston Purina trips they earned through exceptional sales. They also enjoyed taking weekend trips to northern Wisconsin where Jerry would listen to polka bands on Sundays, and Phyllis would enjoy tapping machine counsels and watching the wheels spin. She also loved taking trips to wineries throughout the state with Toni and Terri. The couple retired and sold their mills in the mid-1990s. They spent time taking vacations and day trips with Bill and Jackie Halvorsen and working in their yard. Phyllis would always somehow find some spot where she could plant the tree or bush that Jerry would find on sale at Ace Hardware or another outdoor shop. The two would take daily walks, often ending up drinking coffee with friends downtown.
When Jerry died suddenly in 2005, Phyllis had to make a major adjustment. She managed to keep the house and yard beautiful and had a small group of friends who kept her busy. Phyllis enjoyed sitting down with a cup of coffee and filling out crossword puzzles in the morning paper, along with other word puzzles. She also was an avid reader, especially romance and mystery novels.
Throughout the years, Phyllis loved watching the Packers—especially when Brett Favre was the quarterback—and the Brewers on TV. She had a special Packer fan hoodie she wore while a resident at Prairie Place to watch Green Bay play.
Phyllis was the glue that bonded the family. She loved to host family gatherings during holidays, making sure everyone had something to take home with them. Whenever help was needed, Phyllis was there to provide it.
Phyllis adored her two granddaughters—Sarah and Maggie—the daughters of Toni and Jim Dimpfl. In recent years, she got to relish three great-grandchildren—Norah and Landon, daughter and son of Sarah and Luke; and Hudson, son of Maggie and Brett Haley.
Phyllis is survived by her three children, Thomas of Janesville, Toni and Jim (Dimpfl) of Kaukauna, and Terri of Neenah; along with her grandchildren, Sarah and Maggie; and great-grandchildren Norah, Landon and Hudson. She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters; Mary Lou Reabe, Elaine Graf and LaVerne Owens; a brother Donald; and brothers-in-law Wallace Reabe, Juno Graf and Owen Owens.
A visitation for Phyllis will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Butzin-Marchant Funeral Home in Ripon on Friday, June 2.
Phyllis’ family wants to thank the caregivers at Prairie Place in Ripon and Rennes Health and Rehab at Appleton.
In lieu of flowers, the Miller family would encourage friends to contribute to the charity of their choice in her name.
Friday, June 2, 2023
2:00 - 4:00pm
Butzin-Marchant Funeral Home, Inc.
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