Phyllis Nissen, 87, of rural Maquoketa, Iowa, died peacefully at Crestridge Care Center, Maquoketa, on Friday January 26, 2018 after a short illness.
A memorial visitation will be held at the Carson Celebration of Life Center in Maquoketa from 4 to 6 pm on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. The funeral service will take place at The United Church of Christ on Thursday, February 8, at 11 am, followed by a luncheon in the church fellowship hall. A private burial will be held at Mt. Hope Cemetery at a later date.
Phyllis was born on December 20th, 1930 in Maquoketa, Iowa, to Walter and Beulah (Rimmer) Rugger. She graduated from Maquoketa Community High School in 1948, valedictorian of her class. Phyllis was editor of the high school yearbook and the first chair flutist in the high school band, and also sang in chorus.
Following high school, Phyllis attended Arizona State in Tempe, Arizona on a full music (flute) scholarship. Because her father worked for the railroad, she traveled back and forth to school for free by train. While there, she earned several awards and honors in music and mathematics before leaving college to be married. She played flute and piccolo for the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra as well as the Arizona State band and orchestra. While on Christmas break from college in 1950, she met her future husband, Donald Nissen, after she was asked to complete a foursome for a pinochle game across the street from her parents. It was a match made in heaven! They married on April 22, 1951 and together they had four children: Cindy (1953), Chris (1957), David (1958) and Jonathan (1962).
Family was very important to Phyllis. When their children were in school, hardly a game, or program was missed by Phyllis and Don. They continued to be supportive and play a large role in their children's and grandchildren's lives throughout all their days. Phyllis enjoyed traveling with her family and was in all 50 states except Washington and Oregon. She and Don also loved birding and planned many vacations in order to see a specific variety of bird. They particularly loved Arizona and also took many trips abroad including Chile, England, Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Antigua, as well as Canada and Mexico.
Other activities Phyllis took great pleasure in included counted cross-stitch, playing cards and dominoes, canoeing, gardening, collecting Dickens houses, reading, and having breakfast with her many friends.
Phyllis enjoyed being active in many local groups which included the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, PEO, Red Hat Society, Friends of Jackson County Conservation, Foster Care Review Board, Friends of the Maquoketa Caves, the Jackson County Historical Society, Friends of Ohnward, and also playing her flute for Peace Pipe Players.
Phyllis was devoted to the United Church of Christ (formerly the Congregational Church) where she first began attending as a child. She sang in the choir from 1943 - 2017 and even sang from her wheelchair 2 months before her death. Other church involvement included playing the flute and piccolo for numerous programs, and teaching Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. She was a longstanding member of the Women's Fellowship group holding several offices and was the first woman moderator of the UCC. Phyllis also enjoyed chairing the October Fest, working with the Cookie Walk, a Taste of Heaven, and helped compile a church cookbook. One of her last and most joyful activities for the church was being a mentor for the confirmation students.
Phyllis' employment history started when she worked at the local JC Penney store. After her husband purchased the John L. Jones Insurance and Real Estate Agency from his uncle in 1955, she started working there. Phyllis prepared taxes for hundreds of clients of this agency and other firms over the years. After retiring, she worked at Sue's Hallmark in Maquoketa.
Those left to honor Phyllis' memory include her children: Cindy (Fred) Hoffman of Alpharetta, GA, Chris (Mara) Nissen of Maquoketa, and David (Lynn) Nissen of Maquoketa; three grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; several step great-grandchildren and step great-great grandchildren; several nephews; and her honorary son Eduardo Gomez (of Temuco, Chile) who had spent a year living with the family as a foreign exchange student.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband of 65 years, Donald (in 2016), her son Jonathan (in 2008), three sisters and three brothers.
In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, memorials may be made to The United Church of Christ, Hospice of Jackson County, the Hurstville Interpretive Center, Ohnward Fine Arts Center, The Jackson County Historical Society and Museum, or the donor's choice.
Online condolences may be left at www.CarsonAndSon.com.
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So sorry for the loss of your Mom. Please find hope at Rev. 21:3,4. Such a grand hope for the future.
We send our deepest sympathy for the loss of your Mother. She was a wonderful woman a great musician, vocal and flutist, hard working church volunteer and marvelous friend. She will be greatly missed by all of us who loved her.
Richard (Dick ) and Kathy Harder
Condolences to all Phyllis' loved ones. She lived a very accomplished life and left behind many memories and lessons to carry on.
Dear Cindy, Chris, and David. So sorry to hear of your mom's passing. She was a wonderful woman, wife and mom. May your many memories of her help you find comfort during this difficult time. You all are in our thoughts and prayers.
Dick and Julie Caven -Sherrard
So sorry fir your loss, Cindy. Your mom was a wonderful lady
To The entire Nissan family, you have my deepest sympathy. What a wonderful woman Phyllis was. Always so nice and friendly. I know she will greatly missed.
To Chris and family. I'm saddend to hear of your Mom's passing. I have admired her from my high school band days when Roy T Schwab held her up as the musicianship goal to shoot for. Unfortunately we never got to play a duet for church tho we talked about it. She and your Dad were a wonderful couple, so interested in so many things in our community. She will be greatly missed.
To the Nissen Family, . .our thoughts and prayers are with you . . may you feel comfort and love through the memories created, and may the love carry you through the days and years ahead.
Sharing in your sadness as you remember your mom. Keep those fun and loving memories close to your heart - it will help fill the void. Hugs,
Dear Cindy, Chris and David,
I am very sad to learn of your Mom's passing. We go way back to the choir singing in the late 40"s and then when she married Don, a cousin of mine, she became family. I always admired her talents and quiet personality. You had a wonderful parent. I will be seeing you soon.
My deepest sympathy to the family. I hope your memories of a life well lived and loved will be a comfort to all of you.
So sorry to hear of your loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
So sorry for your loss .
Our deepest sympathy to the Nissen Family. You are in our prayers.
Dear Nissen Family, I have been deeply hurt by the death of Phyllis, I will sorely miss her, My thoughts and prayers got out to you, Axel and Family
Nissen Family - my thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Phyllis was a lovely woman who touched many lives. She was kind, thoughtful, and loved her family. May time and fond memories ease your loss.
Sending thoughts and prayers to all of you in the loss of your mother Phyllis. Phyllis was a beautiful lady inside and out. It was always such a pleasure to visit with her because she was always so happy and positive. She will be missed by many.
Darrel and I wish you memories that will always keep your mother close to you all
The sweetest woman I have ever had the pleasure of working for. I will miss my daily chat checking in on her. May you find peace and comfort in your memories.
To the Nissen family,
Valerie and I extend our sincere sympathies to you. We have fond memories of your parents during our stay in Maquoketa, both professionally and socially. I particularly remember working with Phyliis at Ohnward when we did Annie together. She was such a talented woman and a wonderful person to have known. You and her will be in our thoughts and prayers in the days ahead.
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