Phyllis Ann Philipps, after a long battle with breast cancer has gone to be with God. Phyllis passed peacefully in her home in Conrad surrounded by family on Wednesday the 5th of August 2020.
Phyllis was born December 28, 1958 in Alhambra, California to Anthony and Josephine Caputo. She was the youngest of six children and was loved by her siblings, Ralph, Tony, Richard, Theresa, and Michael. She attended high school in Alhambra and later attended Humboldt State University where she followed her passion for performing arts, nature, and John Denver. Phyllis was active in the Sierra Club and US Youth Conservation Corps where she explored the mountains and maintained trails. She wrote songs about her work in the hills including one about losing her pulaski while crossing a river. She married her first husband, Andy Faulkner, in California in 1980 and gave birth to her daughter, Lauren, in April of 1981. In 1982 she received a Bachelor Degree in Art. She found her calling in the Natural Resources Conservation Service and excelled at her job. She began her work in Washington DC and in 1984 she and Lauren moved to Conrad where she became a soil conservationist. She moved to Townsend, MT in 1987 to continue her work as a soil conservationist until she moved back to Conrad as a District Conservationist. In 1988 she married her second husband, Jerry Philipps, a local producer in the Conrad area. In 1991 she gave birth to their son, Brandon.
Phyllis was an active member in her community. She taught dance to youth and put on many recitals. She was active in Pondera Arts Council and performed in multiple plays put on by members of the community. She later began directing and writing her own musicals including Hot Flash and Desperate Farmwives. She played her guitar and sang at the Catholic Church. Her love for music and dancing was infectious to many people around her.
In 2002 she was selected to be the Assistant State Conservationist for the NRCS and began working out of Great Falls. In 2007 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite her diagnosis, Phyllis did not let anything slow her down. She did multiple stints in Washington DC working closely with top officials in the United States Department of Agriculture. She became a Regional Conservationist and she over saw multiple states in the American Northwest. During the latter part of her career she was the State Conservationist for the state of Colorado. After retiring from the NRCS in 2014 she returned home to the farm in Conrad.
Phyllis loved to travel and see new and exciting places. Bike riding and drinking wine in the south of France. She traveled to Italy, Spain, Ireland, Costa Rica, Mexico, The Galapagos Islands, The Netherlands, The Cayman Islands, The Florida Keys and so much more. Her love for life was contagious to many around her and she was an inspiration to all. Her amazing work ethic and high energy, despite her illness, gave many people hope and kept her doctors baffled.
Phyllis loved animals and always had quite the array of critters in her yard. Everything from dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, goats, llamas and even a wallaby.
Phyllis was truly an extraordinary woman that has touched so many lives. She was a loving wife, an amazing mother, and the best grandmother to her four grandchildren. She was a living example of how a diagnosis of a terminal disease should only be fuel to live life to the fullest and enjoy every minute doing the things that you love.
Phyllis is survived in death by her husband, Jerry Philipps of Conrad; children, Lauren (Gareth) Morrissey of Delaware and Brandon (Nicole) Philipps of Conrad; siblings, Ralph Caputo of Washington, Tony (Lynn) Caputo of North Carolina, Richard (Kim) Caputo of Florida, and Theresa Renn of California; and her four grandchildren, Nora and Saorise Morrissey and River and Poet Philipps.
She is preceded in death by her mother, Josephine Caputo; her father Anthony Caputo; and her brother, Michael Caputo.
A private funeral mass will be Wednesday, August 12, at 10:00 AM at St. Michael’s Catholic Church. A ZOOM meeting is available by calling Pondera Funeral Home for details. Following mass, a Celebration of Life will be held at The Legion Park in Conrad at 1pm for the public. In tribute to Phyllis, costumes or accessories are encouraged and can be provided. Social distancing protocol will be enforced.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the Pondera Healthcare Foundation, PO Box 802, Conrad, 59425.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Phyllis Ann Philipps, please visit our floral store.
Pondera Healthcare Foundation
PO Box 802, Conrad MT 59425