Phyllis Angela Parks Robinson
In the midst of World War Two, when The United States defeated the Japanese at Guadalcanal and the German forces under General Rommel in North Africa, a bundle of joy entered the world, Phyllis Angela Parks, to the parents of Vernon and Alvena Parks in Saint Louis, Missouri. She resided at 615 North Ewing Avenue, which was central downtown in Saint Louis at the time. She was also welcomed by her grandmother Sadie Tranzer and older brothers Alvern and Bobbijo (no, not Robert Joseph) Parks.
Phyllis was baptized at the age of 5 into the congregation of Galilee Baptist Church, under the pastorate of Rev. Malachi Owens, D.D. As the world turns, Reverend Owens became her step-father upon the marriage of Alvena Parks to Reverend Owens in the late 40s. In church, she sang in the choir and was a junior usher. She played piano. The family moved into a two-story brick house on Enright Avenue, located in the central west end of Saint Louis. She attended Cole School and later Eugene Field Elementary school where she graduated a year early due to her academic scholarship. Phyllis attended the first Black high school built west of the Mississippi, The Charles Sumner High School, graduating in 1961. She then entered Harris Teachers’ College, which is now known as Harris-Stowe State University. With baby-sitting jobs, support from her church and family, she graduated with a degree in elementary education and began her career in teaching at Hickey Elementary School in north Saint Louis. She bought her first car, a 1966 Ford Mustang, blue with a white vinyl top (vinyl tops were the rage then). Seeing the additional needs of students and teachers, Phyllis soon became involved in the Saint Louis Teachers’ Union. Phyllis spent her own money (as many teachers did then and now) to provide enrichment tools and crafts for her students. As her involvement deepened in the union activities and goals, she began attending the national conventions. Wherever they were held, Phyllis went. She never missed one in over 45 years!
In 1970, Phyllis left Saint Louis and resided in Washington D.C., later marrying an educator who was a National Education Association negotiator, Mr. Dale Robinson. To this union no children were born.
Phyllis continued her teaching activities in pre-school through 5th grade while promoting the goals and objectives of the Maryland State Education Association. She was elected to many offices from secretary to treasurer, to vice-president to president of MCEA. She was a member of and chaired several caucuses. She travelled around the world with teachers to England, South Africa, China, Zimbabwe, and Hawaii, to mention a few places.
During her young adult years, Phyllis sang as a contralto in The Celestial Chorale at Galilee Baptist Church. As a contralto, she had a very low female voice. The group performed Spirituals, Anthems, Gospels and Cantatas for the church and other special occasions in and out of town. She was on the album they produced in the 1960s.
Phyllis mentored many educators in contract negotiations, selecting education friendly candidates for general elections and campaigning for various issues. She also mentored students going to Howard and other universities. As a teacher at heart, she strived to get her students to pursue as much education as they could get and to put it to good use not only for their benefit, but for the community’s benefit as well. Phyllis served on the board of Giant Foods, Inc., making them aware of the needs of senior citizens.
As an Aunt and Great Aunt, Phyllis was an asset for all her brothers’ children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She held many babies, babysat, changed diapers, instructed, disciplined and took them places and sent or took them gifts. She always tried to enrich their lives and make memorable moments.
Phyllis loved parties, travelling, eating out and cooking for others. She was the chopped vegetables salad and Monkey Bread queen. As she tacked on years, a cane and walker became her additional accessories, but she continued to live independently. Even during the pandemic, she attended association board and caucus meetings through phone conferences or Zoom©. She commented on her young folks’ Facebook postings with gentle discipline, advising them that the nature/content of these postings could have a negative effect on their future endeavors. Her laptop and smart phone always travelled with her. She was not afraid of new technology.
Aside from baby-sitting, cashiering at Schnucks grocery store, being a receptionist for an oral surgeon, Dr. Donald Suggs, Phyllis worked for the education of future generations of parents, leaders and entrepreneurs.
Phyllis’ activities declined steeply and suddenly as she suffered complications from her kidney disease in January, 2021. After six weeks of hospitalization and many medical procedures, she glided into the peacefulness of eternity at Washington Medstar Hospital at 10:34 P.M. EST with her nephew Mike Parks, her great friend Jennifer Martin by her side and family watching through a hospital video link. Phyllis made use of high tech, even at the end.
Many are her survivors: brother, Rev. Malachi Owens, Jr of Saint Louis, God-brother Gerald Edwards of Washington D.C., nieces Valerie (Michael) of Heartland, Missouri, Kimberly (Curry) Robertson, Stephanie (Levi) Patton and Felicia Parks of Fort Worth, Tx., Chanita Owens of Ft. Lauderdale FL., Mia Owens (Kyle) of Saint Louis Mo, nephews Michael Parks (Merline ) of Atlanta Georgia and Delmar Dixon of Fort Worth, Texas, great nephews, great nieces and great-greats, her close friends Jennifer and Charles Martin, Ina and Jeff Wolff, God-sister Beverly(Bill) Hamilton Watson of San Antonio Tx., Sister-in-laws Mary N. Parks of Oakland, California, Karen M. Owens of Saint Louis, Missouri and Elizabeth Jefferson of Atlanta, Georgia, Dale Robinson of Bethesda, Maryland and a multitude of dedicated educators across the land.
May the memory of Phyllis Angela Parks Robinson, be for you, a blessing.
(written by Malachi Owens, Jr, brother)
In lieu of flowers, we encourage you to give in memory of Phyllis to the Montgomery College Presidential Scholarship Fund:
To make a donation by check
1. Make check payable to “Montgomery College Foundation”
2. On the memo line, write In memory of Phyllis Robinson for Presidential Scholars Scholarships.
3. Mail to Montgomery College Foundation, 9221 Corporate Blvd., Rockville, MD 20850.
For secure credit card donations
1. Click this link to make your donation. www.montgomerycollege.edu/onlinegiving
2. Enter your contact information.
3. Click on the box: Give to a Scholarship Fund. Click the drop-down box, click Presidential Scholars Program.
4. Continue to follow the prompts and complete your donation (including making the gift in memory of Phyllis Robinson).
Note: If anyone would like to give securities, via wire transfer, or through donor advised funds, please contact Francene Walker, Francene.firstname.lastname@example.org, 240-393-2118.
Montgomery College Foundation is a 501c3 charitable organization that accepts donations on behalf of Montgomery College. All gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.
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