Phyllis Florence Alpert (nee Brode), 92, died April 7, 2020. Married for almost 69 years to her beloved husband, Richard, Phyllis was the mother of four children (Barbara, Larry, Peter [Cali], and David [Patricia], grandmother to six (Lauren, Stephanie [Brian], Charlie, Joshua, Jackson [Daija], and Casey), and great-grandmother to three (Kamya, Mazie Lee, and Ember).
An award-winning collage and mixed media artist and a member of the Santa Barbara Art Association, Phyllis was born in Pennsylvania in 1927. The daughter of Charles and Minerva Brode, and sister to Sunnie and Buddy, Phyllis worked at Liberty Magazine and as a photographer’s stylist before marrying Richard in 1951. While raising her four children in Kendall Park and Maplewood, New Jersey, she found time to volunteer with Footlight Services of the National Council of Jewish Women, performing at children’s hospitals and nursing homes. She and Richard especially loved the theater and opera, and they subscribed to performances at many theaters and the New York City Opera.
Phyllis went back to work in retail when her children were older, at Bonwit Teller in Short Hills, starting with a single counter of men’s shirts—at that time, the entire men’s department. Over the next decade, she became a retail sensation and rose to manager of the Men’s Shop, growing the department to half the first floor of the store! She also acted as personal stylist to several local television personalities and many of the best-dressed men in the region. Her customers told her that their wives used to shop for them…until she came along and transformed the experience for them.
After their sons moved across the country to Colorado (Larry) and California (Peter and David), Richard and Phyllis decided to move west to be near them and their families. Living in Santa Barbara since 1985, they traveled the Western US for Firenze Designs hawking women fashions and when they got home to Santa Barbara, they went to the movies. Phyllis was actively involved with the Santa Barbara Film Festival, for which they regularly reviewed films. They loved the Music Academy of the West, attending many master classes and often acting as volunteer ushers. But Phyllis’s true passion, besides her grandchildren, was studying art and pursuing her artistic endeavors. Through the Santa Barbara Art Association, she showed her collage and mixed-media work at the Faulkner, at Gallery 113, and in several other venues. She was honored to receive a number of awards over the years.
Phyllis is survived by her husband of 68 years, Richard, her daughter Barbara, and her sons Peter and David, as well as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren mentioned above. She also dearly loved her nieces and nephews by her sister Sunnie and husband Leo—Jimmy [Marjorie] and Bobby Kuhn, and by her brother Buddy and wife Mena—Michael Brode and Diana Brode Artosky, and by Richard’s sister Joan and husband LeRoy—Beth Guttman Dunn, Alan and Howard Guttman. Her adored son Larry predeceased her. She will be remembered always as a gifted, creative, and multifaceted woman who loved her family above all else.