Phyllis Gates Fenger

Date of Birth

July 11, 1922

Date of Death

September 23, 2021

Phyllis Gates Fenger of Carpinteria, California, died peacefully at home among family and friends on September 23, 2021 at age 99.

Born July 11, 1922 in Denver, Colorado to Nelle and Herman Gates, Phyllis became a person of many talents and interests. After earning her BA in French, with minors in Spanish and Education from University of Colorado in 1942, she taught school, raised a family, became a librarian, read and traveled extensively, and worked as a travel agent. She studied Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Italian, and Greek, took up sailing, tennis, golf, folk and Scottish country dancing.

Phyllis volunteered at Cottage Hospital, Main and Aliso School Libraries, and Carpinteria Friends of the Library bookstore. She served as an election poll worker during many elections and believed voting a privilege and duty. She studied and worked as a docent at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park and the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History.

Phyllis wrote 100-plus memoir-style stories, and at age 94 authored a book based on her cousin’s diary about her experience as a WW1 nurse in France.  American Red Cross Nurse: Beulah Feely 1917-1918 was accepted into the National World War 1 Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

Witty and generous in conversation, Phyllis collected people from next door and around the world who became lifelong friends, all of whom knew it was highly unlikely they’d ever beat her at Scrabble. She was also a devoted dog lover and raised ten 4-legged family members in her lifetime.

Phyllis was preceded in death by several dear, close contemporaries, her beloved grandparents, parents, brother Phil, and son Mike. She is survived by her daughter Ellen, of Santa Barbara, and many cherished and devoted friends and family members. A special thank you to Carmen for her abiding love and care.

Funeral services will be November 20, 2021 at 11 AM at All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 83 Eucalyptus Lane, Santa Barbara. Masks required and the family prefers all attendees be Covid-19 vaccinated. Please enjoy wearing brighter colors as Phyllis never wore black or somber clothing.


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