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Phyllis Smith, 93

Phyllis (Mlinar) Smith, 93, of Howard Lake, MN, passed away Wednesday, March 29, 2023, of natural causes at The Lodge of Howard Lake.

She was born Phyllis Janet Mlinar Friday, Aug. 2, 1929, in Spring Valley, MN, to Joseph and Emily (Yukel) Mlinar. 

She grew up in Spring Valley and graduated valedictorian from Spring Valley High School class of 1947.

She went on to attend the University of Minnesota College of Medical Sciences and earned a graduate in nursing degree with distinction in 1952.

Her time there included an additional year to obtain a teaching certificate, which she would utilize later in her life. She was also a member of Alpha Tau Delta, a fraternity for students and professionals in the nursing fields.

After her graduation, she left Minnesota to work at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. While working there, she met Richard F. Smith of Howard Lake, who was a patient.

On a road trip where Richard drove Phyllis and her roommates to Minnesota for the holidays, there was plenty of time to get better acquainted. Needless to say, a while later, she relocated from Boston to New York City to work at New York Hospital and be near where Richard was working.

They were married in Spring Valley in July 1955.

After the wedding, they moved to Mobile, AL, and Phyllis taught nursing at the Providence Hospital School.

In 1957, their first daughter Carol was born in Baltimore. They moved again in 1958 to Ridgewood, NJ, where son Richard J. and daughter Janet were born. They called Ridgewood home for close to 60 years.

After the children were grown, Phyllis worked at the local county health department in the cancer detection program. Retiring in 1992, she shared her time between homemaking and volunteering at the church and the American Red Cross.

In 2007, when Richard retired, they moved to Howard Lake to the Smith family homestead. While there, she continued her volunteering activities and enjoyed helping Richard make maple syrup.

Richard passed away in 2019, and Phyllis relocated for the final time to The Lodge of Howard Lake.

Through the years, Phyllis was involved in professional organizations including the American Association of University Woman and Nurses Guild, and she had officer positions in both organizations. 

She enjoyed helping children through her leadership in Girl Scouts, mentoring confirmation communicants, teaching Sunday school, volunteering at the school library, and helping with the church children’s choir.

Phyllis was active in the Presbyterian Church in both Ridgewood and Howard Lake.  In addition to participating in the prayer chain, Bible study, and Sunday greeting activities, she had officer positions at both churches.

She enjoyed sewing clothes, needlework, quilting, and crafting. There was never a day without fresh baked goods in the Smith household. Phyllis enjoyed entertaining and always found time to bring people together, be it friends, family, or past acquaintances.

Early in their married life, Richard and Phyllis learned to ski. This became a lifelong activity the entire family enjoyed, which ultimately led to them building a vacation home in Colorado where they welcomed family and friends from around the world.

Travel was always a part of Phyllis’s life. Be it related to Richard’s shipping business or just for pleasure, she had the privilege to travel all around the world. Phyllis liked to share her travel experiences in summary journals and photos.

Phyllis was passionate about life, and above all else, she loved her family. She was devoted and supportive not only to her husband and children, but to all her nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Emily Mlinar; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Dale and Hjordy, Keith and Jean, and Joseph P. and Joyce; and nephews, Mark Mlinar and Allyn Smith.

Phyllis is survived by children, Carol Lehr (Joe Houghton) of Huntingdon Valley, PA, Richard J. Smith of Minneapolis, MN, and Janet E. Smith of Fairbanks, AK; 36 nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and countless dear friends.

The family is forever grateful for and deeply appreciative of the compassionate care from the teams at The Lodge of Howard Lake and Moments Hospice.

A funeral service took place at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, 2023, with visitation one hour prior to services at the First Presbyterian Church in Howard Lake.

Arrangements are by Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Howard Lake, 320-543-3401, www.swansonpeterson.com.

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