Phyllis Jean Smith, age 90 of Prior Lake, passed away at her home on Wednesday, June 23, 2016. A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Tuesday, June 28 at 11:00AM with a visitation one hour prior at Ballard-Sunder Funeral Home, 4565 Pleasant Street SE, Prior Lake. Burial to follow at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Pastor Kyle Jackson will preside. Phyllis’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren will act as urnbearers.
On October 8, 1925 in Des Moines, Iowa, Linden and Jennie (Burns) Francisco celebrated the birth of their daughter, Phyllis Jean Francisco. One of six children, Phyllis was the only to be born in a hospital. The family lived outside of Clinton, Iowa on a farm. Despite growing up during the Great Depression, Phyllis’ parents worked tirelessly to protect the family from hardship. They instilled a frugal, hardworking attitude in their children.
While living in Des Moines, Phyllis was introduced to a young man named Arnold Smith. A whirlwind of a relationship ensued. With World War II approaching, the young couple decided to elope in Coffey, Missouri. They went to the justice of peace, who also ran the second hand store, and asked him to wed the couple. In need of witnesses for their wedding, Phyllis and Arnold interrupted a card game and had two strangers attend the ceremony. The newlyweds traveled home that night, intent on not telling their families of the elopement. This plan was quickly ruined as Arnold told Phyllis’ father almost immediately.
As the years went on, the family grew. Phyllis and Arnold were blessed with two children, Jim and Carol. In 1952 Arnold went to Minnesota to work at General Mills. Nervous to move his family somewhere new, Arnold rented a room alone for three months before deciding Minnesota was a safe place to raise the family. Eventually Phyllis was kept busy between bookkeeping and running her household. She was a great mother. She emphasized family time as time well spent. Phyllis was a fantastic cook and seamstress, having worked in alterations at J.C. Penny. Her children and grandchildren would always come to her with clothing to be fitted and hemmed. On Sunday, it was her tradition to make family dinner which she continued until last year at age 89.
Together the family enjoyed vacations up north and attending little league baseball. It was through little league that Phyllis met many of her good friends. Phyllis loved entertaining friends and family. Along with these friends, Phyllis and Arnold boated, snowmobiled, and golfed for over 30 years at the New Prague Golf Course, once again Phyllis made many friends. Phyllis was also an avid reader she had started a list of all the books she read in the past 6 years and has challenged her children to read them all. As Phyllis and Arnold grew older, they began wintering at their condo in Naples, Florida. They would drive down, visiting family along the way. They continued this tradition for 23 years.
Phyllis was a stubborn, yet loving woman who cared for her family and friends. While she loved spending time with them, she enjoyed her solitude as well. Phyllis believed in living life to the fullest. She will be greatly missed by her son, Jim (Barbara) Smith; daughter, Carol (Bruce) Vetsch; grandchildren, Diane (Dan) Peterson, Erik (Brita) Vetsch, Cindy Brown, Vikki (David) Healy; Step-grandson, Scott (Urmila) Taylor; her many greatgrandchildren; sister, Connie (Larry) Wilson; brother-in-law, Bob Garlind. Phyllis is preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, Arnold Smith; sisters, Della (Phil) Hartman, JoAnn Garlind; Howard Francisco, Jack Francisco; parents, Linden and Jennie.
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