Phyllis Caroline Prakel was born on January 6, 1930 in Versailles, Ohio. The village provided a safe, trusting, and nurturing place in which to grow up, and epitomized the qualities that guided her life. She was raised by Homer, a kind and generous man in the lumber business, and Mary, a music & home economics teacher. As a teenager, Phyllis played cello, piano, and flute and sang in the church and school choirs, or at weddings and funerals. She was valedictorian of her class (1947) and drum majorette.
After high school, Phyllis had the privilege of attending DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. She was involved in the Collegian Choir, the 'Future Teachers of America, and many other student organizations. Phyllis was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. She was most proud of how she worked for civil rights as a member of the Council on Minority Problems. She marched to protest color lines that separated black from white: a gutsy thing to do in the 1940s in the state that gave birth to the Ku Klux Klan. In 1951, Phyllis graduated from DePauw and married Don Markle of Markleville, Indiana. They raised three children who all graduated from the UA: Susan Markle (ÌÇ75), Kent Markle ('79, '82), and Lee Ann Markle Hamilton ('82, '95).
Before moving to Tucson in 1958, Phyllis began her teaching career in Logansport, IN. She taught for the HeadStart program. Phyllis spent most of her career teaching kindergarten at Richey, Carrillo, and Bonillas elementary schools (TUSD).
In 1973, Phyllis earned her MA in education from the University of Arizona while teaching fulltime, attending school at night, and successfully raising 3 kids on her own. Phyllis loved serving those in need-the underprivileged. She preferred working in areas struggling with poverty, discrimination, drugs and violence. One of her favorite schools was in Old Pascua (the Yaqui village). She talked of changing lives with small opportunities to learn and improve and was hopeful that a better day would be ahead for all people. Like one of her heroes, Martin Luther King, Jr., she had a dream that the world would one day embrace ALL God's children, regardless of the color of their skin, or if their parents were in jail or addicted to heroin. She prayed that each individual would be free to choose their own path and dance to their own drummer-accepted without prejudice.
Phyllis loved nature. She paid special attention to the phases of the moon and delighted in sighting a new, crescent moon in the evening sky. She often called family and friends to alert them to a glorious sunset in progress. She particularly loved trees, autumn leaves, pinecones and her second home in Pinetop, AZ.
'People person' described Phyllis. She was a friend to all and never met at stranger. She was genuinely interested in the lives of others. Phyllis saw good in everyone and always gave people the benefit of doubt. She served as a Stephen's Minister at Lutheran Church of the King, helping those in crisis. Grandma Phyllis was so proud of her grandchildren: Homer, Lilli, Gina Markle, and Kelsey and Kyle Hamilton.
Phyllis embodied many fine qualities: a love of learning, intelligence, fairness, grace, beauty, loyalty, wonder, kindness, and a tender heart. Known for her beautiful smile, gentle voice, loving nature, and unconditional positive regard for everyone she met, her sweet and loving graciousness will be missed by many.