Phyllis Bird Roth
June 20, 1930-July 26, 2020
Phyllis Bird (Iskowich) Roth was born to Samuel and Lillian Iskowich in McKeesport, PA. Residing in nearby Versailles Borough and graduating from McKeesport High School in 1948, she attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. After college, Phyllis and her husband moved to San Luis Obispo, CA, where she worked as an elementary school teacher until her return to Versailles Borough, at which point she gave birth to the first of two sons, David, in 1953. Two years later, she resumed teaching in Pittsburgh, appearing once as a guest on the Mister Rogers Neighborhood show, on WQED-TV. In 1961, the family returned to the West Coast, stopping for a year at Fort Lewis, Washington, before settling in Palo Alto, CA, in 1962. Phyllis taught at Herbert Hoover Elementary School in Palo Alto. In 1967, she retired to devote herself to her family, which then included a second son, Scott.
In 1970, the family relocated to Atherton, CA, where she lived for more than 40 years before moving to an assisted living home in San Mateo, CA. Phyllis retained her passion for teaching and helping others. She devoted her time to such endeavors as Art in Action, a program to educate grade school children in the arts, the California League of Women Voters and various fundraising activities on behalf of local schools and organizations. She also volunteered as a teachers’ aide in Menlo Park. In her later life, Phyllis developed a love for gardening and floral design. Her morning ritual typically involved pruning roses while enjoying coffee. She enjoyed volunteering at Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto. Phyllis’ interest in flower arranging led her to study various styles and attend exhibitions and schools in Paris, France and the famed Ikebana Ikenobo school in Kyoto, Japan. She was attracted to the simplicity and elegance of Ikebana. Ever the teacher, she loved to educate and help friends learn the specialized techniques of the art. Phyllis is preceded in death by her brother, Arthur Ingram. She is survived by her sons David (Joan Moment) of Sacramento, CA, Scott (Ruthanne) of Burlingame, CA and Robert Roth, MD, of Pleasanton, CA, her ex-husband. Though she had many interests, her greatest love was for her sons, rivaled only by that for her Airedale terriers and “grand-dogs.” Phyllis passed peacefully, succumbing to complications of age and Alzheimer’s disease, which she battled since 2008. True to her personality and character, Phyllis approached these challenges with an indefatigable spirit, grit and humor. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her. May her memory be a blessing.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Mission Hospice of San Mateo, CA Elizabeth Gamble Gardens of Palo Alto, CA or the San Francisco SPCA.