Phyllis Jean Conroy


OREGON – Phyllis Jean Conroy, 95, of Oregon, passed away on Oct. 9, 2019 in her home surrounded by her loving family. She was born Aug. 14, 1924 in Sterling, to Samuel Percy Stump and Almeda Mae, nee Zook, Stump.

The family moved from Illinois to Fort Dodge, Iowa where Phyllis spent her youth. Reciting poetry in the parlor of their home was a favorite evening family pastime. As a child, Phyllis loved reading books, singing harmony to church hymns, and playing the violin in an orchestra. Some of her fondest childhood memories were the carefree, summer days spent at her grandparents’ farm located at Franklin Corners near Morrison. A special memory was playing with the children of the Mount Carmel Orphanage founded by her grandparents, Abraham and Rosanna Zook. Located on the family farm, the orphanage’s mission was to care for orphaned children, many from the inner city of Chicago. In the fresh country air, they would do chores, go to school, and learn the Christian faith. One of the orphan girls became a lifelong friend of Phyllis.

The family eventually returned to Illinois where Phyllis graduated from Polo High School as the class Valedictorian. She attended and graduated from North Central College with a bachelor’s degree in education followed by graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. Heeding the call for teachers needed in the young state of Washington, Phyllis and other teacher friends boarded a train for the Northwest. In the lumbering town of Buckley at the foot of Mount Rainier, Phyllis taught British literature, speech, and directed plays at the local high school.  Returning to Illinois, Phyllis continued her teaching career at Reavis High School in Burbank/Oak Lawn and Stockton High School.

While in Stockton, she met the love of her life, husband John Conroy, who at the time was the U.S. Soil & Water Conservationist for Jo Daviess County. Since both of their families resided in Dixon, they commuted back and forth on weekends together from Stockton to Dixon. And the rest, as they say, is history. Phyllis and John were married at St. Patrick’s Church in Dixon on June 14, 1952. The young couple settled in Oregon and raised their six children in a happy and busy home on South Sixth Street. After her children were all enrolled in school, Phyllis resumed her teaching career and became a Language Arts teacher at Ruby Nash School and Etnyre Middle School in Oregon. She loved teaching and had incredibly clear recollection of nearly all her former students. In retirement, her life was filled with her loving husband, John, until he passed away in 2003, her many books, friends, and especially her family as it continued to bless her with many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

 Phyllis was a member of St. Mary Catholic Church, Oregon and Catholic Daughters of the Americas. Despite the normal effects of aging, Phyllis kept her sunny disposition. Throughout her life and right up to the end, the calm assurance of her strong faith guided her.  In the final chapter of Phyllis’ life, her caregiver, Sara, provided her with loving care and lasting friendship.

Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, John, sister Ann Baker, brother-in-law Gene Baker, and infant brother Herbert.

Survivors include six children: John J. (Cathy) Conroy of Elmhurst, Trisha (Edward) Eckhart of Libertyville, Douglas (Julie) Conroy of Geneva, Joseph (Sheila) Conroy of Grayslake, Stephen (Julie) Conroy of McHenry and Mary Beth (Bob) Wulf of Victoria, Minnesota, 24 grandchildren: Jack (Anne), Mary (Joe) Simpson, Claire, Patrick, Kevin, Meg and Peter Conroy; Jenny (Scott) Yingling and Matt Eckhart; Elizabeth and Doug (Lauren) Conroy; Joseph, Maureen, Bridget and Brendan Conroy; Stephen, Susan (Nick) Koerner, Michael, John, Will, and Luke Conroy; Rebecca, Robert and Ben Wulf; and 6 great grandchildren: Allie, John and Connor Conroy; Will and Charlie Simpson; Jake Yingling, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Phyllis’ family extends a heartfelt thank you to Serenity Hospice (especially Nurse Sheila) and to Father Naill, the deacons, Communion ministers, and parishioners of St. Mary Parish Oregon for their personal visits and prayers.

Funeral services will be held on Monday, Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church, Oregon, preceded by a wake at Farrell, Holland & Gale Funeral Home, Oregon, from 4-7 p.m., with Rosary at 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 20. Donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.