Sept. 20, 1923 – June 16, 2019
Phyllis Lorraine (Bowen) Burkey was born Sept. 20, 1923, in Friend, the only child of Milo and Violet (Snodgrass) Bowen. She passed away on Sunday, June 16, 2019, at the Ridgewood Care Center in Seward at the age of 95 years, 8 months and 27 days.
She was dedicated to the Lord and received Him as her personal Savior at the age of 12. Phyllis was active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship in Friend and taught the nursery class for several years. She graduated from Friend High School in 1940, where she took “normal training,” and then attended summer school at Wesleyan to prepare for teaching in rural schools in Saline and Seward counties.
She married Arnold Burkey on May 26, 1945, at the Friend Methodist Church and met the challenge of farming at his side. Phyllis joined East Fairview Mennonite Church and enjoyed teaching Sunday School and Bible School, teaching young girls to sew and being involved in 4-H leadership during these years. Two sons, Tim and Sid, were born and became the focus of the family for the next season of life. In 1956, the family moved briefly to Hesston, Kansas, for Arnold to attend Hesston College and explore a call to pastoral ministry. Phyllis served as the chairperson for the World Day of Prayer in Milford in 1959.
Phyllis and Arnold were charter members of Bellwood Mennonite Church, serving wherever they were needed. She was a church organist and recorded the music at home for worship services until the first organ was installed at the church. Along with using her teaching gifts, she held offices in the Mennonite Women and served two terms as secretary for the Iowa-Nebraska W.M.S.A. Volunteering her time at the Et Cetera Shop in Seward and the Bellwood Montessori School was a great pleasure of hers.
In 1975-1976, she and Arnold served at the Mennonite Mission Board in Elkhart, Indiana, for six months. They moved from the family farm to Milford in 1976, then to Seward in 2009. She was an active member and an officer in the Gideon Auxiliary for over 30 years. She and Arnold enjoyed their trips to California to visit relatives, a trip to Bolivia in 1996 to visit grandson, Matt, and an Anabaptist History Tour to Europe in 2008.
Being an only child and the only grandchild on her paternal side, she felt especially blessed with Arnold’s sisters and brother and their children. She planned the first Joe and Mattie Burkey Family Reunion in 1988. She was thrilled when her two “daughters-in-love” joined the family. Tim married Bonnie (Schmidt) in 1969, and Sid married Peg (Hall) in 1973. Later six grandchildren were added to the family, and later still, their spouses and children.
She and Arnold faithfully attended as many music and sporting events for their grandchildren as they could.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Violet and Milo Bowen; and by her husband, Arnold in 2011; as well as her brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Kenneth and Carolyn Burkey, Lucinda and Dick Bachman and Doris and Dale Inbody.
As her journey here on earth is ended, the family continues. She is survived by her sons and their wives, Tim and Bonnie Burkey and Sid and Peg Burkey, all of Milford; her grandchildren, Brant (Dawn) Burkey of Denton, Krista (Steve) Yutzy-Burkey of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Matthew (Kristy) Burkey of Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada, Kendra (Nathan) Burkey of North Newton, Kansas, Anna (Jayme) Dick-Burkey of Milford and Jedidiah (Natelie) Burkey of Omaha. She was also blessed to have 12 great-grandchildren: Bowen Dick-Burkey, Rowan Burkey, Sayers Burkey, Ellianna Dick-Burkey, Josie Dick-Burkey, Jairus Burkey, Isaac Burkey, Anna Burkey, Milo Yutzy-Burkey, Kayleigh Burkey, Violet Burkey and Willa Burkey. Also surviving are her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Betty and Mel Yoder of Goshen, Indiana, several nieces, nephews and cousins, and a multitude of friends.
Her memorial service was held at Bellwood Mennonite Church, 520 B St., in Milford, on Tuesday, June 25. The service was conducted by the Rev. Taric Leichty. Memorials may be designated to Bellwood Mennonite Church Benevolent Fund or to Gideons International.