Phyllis Wetherell was born in 1936 in Portland, Maine, the first child of John and Mary Curtis. She grew up in Durham Friends Meeting and remained a member here all her life – one of our many beloved members of the family Curtis. With many friends in both communities, she oscillated between Durham, Maine and Richmond, Indiana all her life.
After her first husband, Ira Donald White, and her daughter, Lisa, passed away, she married David Wetherell, the pastor of Durham Friends. They moved to Richmond, Indiana so that David could attend the Earlham School of Religion. After David graduated, they moved to Bar Harbor where Phyllis and David helped start Acadia Friends Meeting. About a decade later they moved back to Richmond, Indiana.
Phyllis became receptionist/secretary at the Earlham School of Religion, a position she held for fifteen years, from 1985 to 2000. Hers was the first face that prospective students, faculty, and staff encountered. She welcomed them and treated them graciously and with a kindness that came from her heart. Phyllis always believed she had “the best seat in the house” at the front desk at ESR. She wrote,
“What an education to listen to people wrestling out loud about their beliefs or lack of beliefs, to see the profound impact a feisty professor has on someone who finally sees and feels the Light, to watch as a programmed Quaker meets head on an unprogrammed Quaker, when neither one knows anything of the other’s practices. Do you know how exciting it is to listen to folk trying to sort out their beliefs and try and figure out where those beliefs will lead them?”
David passed away in 1990. When Phyllis retired from ESR she came again to live among us in Maine, and then returned to Friends Fellowship in Richmond, Indiana in 2013 for the last seven years of her life. We were always glad to see her when she came back to Durham Friends.
A bright presence in all places and seasons, Phyllis will be deeply missed by all who knew her. She is survived by her children Susan (Dale), Linda (Rick), and David John (Jennifer); her sister Charlotte, brother Johnny (Mildred), and stepdaughter Lynne. Her grandchildren that will carry on all she taught them: Hickory (Trisha), Ryder (Amanda), Rossy, Marjorie, Korey, Brandon (Jenna), Ashton (Wyatt), Nate and Genesee. So, too, her great-grandchildren: Jack, Mason, Max, Samuel, Lumen, and (due in July), Sawyer. Those already passed on include her parents John and Mary Curtis, brother David, daughter Lisa, and the two loves of her life, husbands Donny and David.
Phyllis passed from this life, in Richmond, on April 25, 2020.