Listen to this article

AMES, Iowa — Phyllis Irene (Thompson) Harris, 93, of Ames, Iowa, passed away of natural causes at Northcrest Community on Wednesday (Sept. 16, 2020).

Private graveside services will be held at a later date in the Ames Municipal Cemetery. 

Phyllis was born at Mary Greeley Hospital on March 12, 1927, to Samuel Holliston Thompson and Irene Burchard (Wheeler) Thompson. She attended Roosevelt School, Central Junior High and graduated from Ames High in 1945, attending Iowa State College before meriting a BA from the University of Minnesota in 1949. Phyllis earned an MED from the University of Illinois and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

She was united in marriage to Frank Beck Harris at First United Methodist Church in Ames, on Sept. 2, 1950. Living in Des Moines their first year while Frank finished at Drake, they then moved to Champaign, where twin daughters were born, residing next in Galesburg for three years; then 30 years in Danville. On retirement, they returned to Champaign. Frank died in 1994, and Phyllis returned to Ames in 2002.

Active in Girl Scouts and Sunday school, Phyllis taught kindergarten for District 118, Danville. She was a member of Delta Delta Delta, Chapter AA, P.E.O. Sisterhood, RSVP, Northcrest Writers, the Iowa Poetry Association, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Collegiate United Methodist Church, and valued critique groups in Champaign/Urbana, as well as the Hive from her class in Vermont. Her work appeared in the Chicago Tribune anthologies and various journals, including Lyrical Iowa.

Survivors include Susan (Richard) Cooper and Sara (Jim) Lopinski; grandchildren, Ann (Jay) Gemberling, Lynn (Anthony) Nena and Rebecca, Rachel and Mark (Taylor) Cooper; and great-grandchildren, Maycee, Jase and Jaxon Gemberling, Claire and Cora Nena and Grayson Cooper.

She was preceded in death by her husband; parents; sister, Kathleen Wheeler Hartigan;­ and two nephews, James Anderson and Timothy Hartigan.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Adams Funeral Home, and online condolences may be left for Phyllis’ family at In lieu of flowers, those who wish to express their sympathy may wish to consider a donation to the Ames Public Library or Northcrest Community Residents Council. Donations will be distributed at Christmas to the incredible and attentive staff who provided both friendship and care to Phyllis.