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Phyllis Strand 03/27/2024

Phyllis J. Strand, age 89, died on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at Hammond Health Services in Hammond, WI.

Phyllis is preceded in death by her parents, Thomas and Eleanor Strand, and her sister, Evonne (Vonnie) Lindquist. Survived by her only son, David Spencer, and his life partner, Carol Rydberg, along with many family members and close friends.

Phyllis was born to Thomas and Eleanor Strand in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She spent her early life surrounded by her parents and her dear sister, Vonnie, eventually at what would become their long-standing childhood home on 36th Street and 34th Avenue. The yard was filled with green grass, beautiful flowers, hardy vegetables, and yes, even an elaborate clothesline too. Phyllis graduated from Roosevelt Senior High School just as her sister did and her son, David, would eventually do as well.

Straight out of high school at age 17, Phyllis began working for the Minneapolis Public Schools where she remained a diligent and steadfast secretary for 31 years. Along the way she met many lifelong friends as it was never just a “job.” They were like another family for her.

As the years passed, Phyllis met Merlyn and they were married. This gave birth to their only son, David. They traveled around the world, living in places like Japan and the Azores islands of Portugal, as Merlyn served in the United States Air Force.

Once Phyllis retired from the Minneapolis Public Schools at the young age of 48, she entered the private sector and continued working for well over two decades. Her roles included the secretary to the president of Minnehaha Academy (private school in Minneapolis), and office manager at Helleloid & Swanson accounting firm as well as the Robert Muir Company property management firm. She was especially proud of this final stop in her career and her heart always remained with those whom she worked.

Phyllis raised her only son in south Minneapolis near Lake Nokomis before moving to Apple Valley, Minnesota as David went off to college. She eventually moved to the Centennial Lakes condominiums in Edina where she lived for 33 years. On January 2, 2024, Phyllis moved to River Falls, Wisconsin to live at the Sycamore Senior Living property to be close to Carol and David. Unfortunately, she was never able to enjoy it for long and ultimately ended her time on this earth at the Hammond Health Services facility in Hammond, Wisconsin.

Phyllis loved to travel and considered Hawaii, Mexico, and Japan to be her favorites. Trips to Hawaii with her son, David, and her mother, Eleanor, always held such fond memories. In more recent years, Phyllis always looked forward to, and enjoyed, her trips to Mexico with her dear childhood friend, Joanne.

In her spare time, Phyllis loved spending time outside, working in the yard with flowers and keeping things tidy. She even won a neighborhood award in Minneapolis, presented by alderman and city council member, Denny Schulstad, for her gardening at her home with David on 25th Avenue.

Music was always playing in Phyllis’ home and she shared this love with David who came to love music too. She got David into piano lessons and eventually encouraged him as a drummer where his real passion was. She took great joy whenever he would play for her and never seemed to mind the loud drum noises coming from the basement. Phyllis’ favorite musicians included Johnny Mathis, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, The Carpenters, and Rod Stewart, especially when he would sing songs from the great American songbook.

Movies were also one of Phyllis’ passions and she shared that with David as well as friends and family. In recent years, she would have a movie night with her condo neighbor, Liz, and each week they would share food and drinks then pick out a good movie to watch together.

The love of dogs was also something Phyllis could enjoy till her final days. When David was young, there were Miniature Schnauzers (Megan and Toby) in her home. Over the years, she had many grand-dogs including Piccolo, Jester, Jethro, Yogi, and Lucy. Lucy, in particular, was able to visit her frequently and provide a great deal of joy.

Even before Phyllis ever moved to River Falls, Wisconsin, she was welcomed and embraced by the entire LeRoy Peterson family. She was so very grateful for that and she was equally grateful that her son had found such a loving new home.

On behalf of Phyllis, the family would like to give special thanks to Hammond Health Services and St. Croix Hospice for caring for her, comforting her, embracing her, and loving her during her final days on this earth. We will be forever grateful.

Memorials to the Dementia Society of America (

A Celebration of Phyllis’ Life was held on Sunday, April 14, 2024 at 4 pm with visitation from 3- 4 and a meal followed the service at Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services 805 E Division Street River Falls, WI.  Arrangements are with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.



  • Mike Renford Posted March 27, 2024 8:27 pm

    It was wonderful getting to know and spend time with you at the Renford cabin these last few summers. We always looked forward to the memories, laughter and plain and simple fun. We will all greatly miss you Phyllis. May you rest in peace.
    Mike and Audra

    • David Spencer Posted April 2, 2024 10:04 am

      Thank you so very much, Mike.

  • Carol Thomas Posted March 29, 2024 7:29 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful person and a one in a million mom. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Carol T

    • David Spencer Posted April 2, 2024 10:05 am

      Thank you so very much, Carol.

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