Phyllis Jean (Bender) Watson Edwards, 89, of Hannibal, passed away peacefully at her home on May 14, 2020, surrounded by her loving family.
Graveside services and burial will be at 11 a.m. Monday, May 18, 2020, in Maple Grove Cemetery in Oregon, Mo. Rev. Christopher Watson and Pastor Steve Barker will officiate. The graveside service for Phyllis will be able to be viewed on Phyllis' memorial page on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, at www.smithfuneralhomeandchapel.com.
Due to the current health situation there will be no public visitation. The family wishes to thank all of their friends and family for their love and support during this time. Please feel free to reach out to family via phone, text, email, online condolence or send a card to the family directly or through the funeral home.
The family is being served by the Smith Funeral Home and Chapel of Hannibal.
Phyllis was born in New Point, Mo., on June 16, 1930. She was the daughter of Cleo and Helen (Derr) Bender of New Point, Mo. She attended New Point schools, where she graduated from high school in 1948. Following high school, she played volleyball and basketball as a freshman at Northwest Missouri State University. She graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in August of 1955 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. She continued her graduate work at Northeast Missouri State University and University of Missouri, specializing in English. She taught elementary school in Mound City, Mo., Kodiak Naval Base in Kodiak, Ark., Columbia, Mo., and Mark Twain School in Hannibal. Her educational goal in teaching was to help all the students as much as she could and to prepare them to be good citizens. “Be the best you can be,” “Reach for the Stars, the sky is the limit” were inspirational words that were often used in the classroom and in life. She finished her teaching career at the Hannibal Middle School in June 1990, after 30 ½ years of teaching.
Phyllis was a member of First Christian Church for over 60 years, where she served in numerous capacities: deacon, chairman of the worship committee, choir member, Sunday school teacher, Partners in Prayer group and church board member. She belonged to P.E.O. Chapter BR Chapter and GFWC Women's Club of Hannibal. She was active in teachers' organizations and worked several years at the Mark Twain Museum after her school retirement. Playing bridge was one of Phyllis' true enjoyments in life. An endless amount of cherished lifelong friendships were created from events at friends' homes and at the Hannibal Country Club over many decades. She was active in the church and beginning at age 12, she played the piano in many different venues at her hometown church in New Point, Mo. Following sports of all varieties was another passion of hers. Whether it was following the St. Louis Cardinals, Missouri Tigers, Kansas City Chiefs or the Hannibal Pirates, her love of sports started early in life and never ended. Family was the most important thing in her life. Attending her children's and grandchildren's activities and enjoying family time were some of her most cherished memories.
Phyllis married F. Conrad Watson, June 27, 1951, who preceded her in death on Dec. 20, 1992, after 40 ½ years of marriage. On April 30, 1994, she married retired Air Force Colonel Carroll Edwards. He preceded her in death on June 19, 2014.
She is survived by her children, Craig Watson (Bev), Carl Watson (April Baldwin) and Chris Watson (Leigh Ann); seven grandchildren, Christopher and Rachel Watson, Drew and Christina (Watson) Hunter, Carli Watson, Brooklyn Watson, Trevor Watson, Brendan Watson, and Courtland Watson; and eight great-grandchildren, Faith Watson, Moses Hunter, Grace Watson, Isaiah Hunter, Chase Hunter, Silas Watson, Sydney Watson and Luke Hunter. In addition, she is survived by one sister, Joyce (Officer) Myer, along with her niece and nephew, Lorna (Officer) Lawrence and Lyle Officer.
Pallbearers will be Phyllis' grandchildren.
The family requests in lieu of flowers, please send memorials to First Christian Church of Hannibal, in care of the Smith Funeral Home and Chapel.
Online condolences may be made to the family, video tribute and graveside service viewed on Phyllis' memorial page at www.smithfuneralhomeandchapel.com