Phyllis Barbara Roppe Staige, 95, passed away peacefully on Monday, October 15, 2018, at St. Anne of Winona, surrounded by her loving family.
Phyllis was born on September 25, 1923, in Moorhead, Minn., to Arthur and Frieda Roppe. She was the middle child of three girls. When Phyllis was very young they moved from Halstad, Minn., to Northeast Minneapolis. Early on, Phyllis showed an interest in athletics and in her early teenage years was a skilled dancer and acrobat. Phyllis graduated from Edison High School in 1942.
On July 5, 1946, Phyllis married Earl Staige after an adventurous ride on an Indian motorcycle from Minneapolis, Minn., to Watertown, S.D. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2006. Phyllis and Earl started a family in 1949 and by 1960 had five children, three sons and two daughters. In 1962 they moved to Lakeville, Minn., where they added to their brood: one goat (Myrtle), two ponies, a dancing chicken, a couple rabbits and numerous ducks and chicks. It was also around this time that Phyllis became a swimming instructor and gave youth swimming lessons at Orchard Lake during the summer.
In 1968 Earl was transferred to Fiberite Corporation in Winona, Minn., and the Staige family moved to the Fountain City area. Phyllis worked in retail (receiving) for many years including Choate department store and then at Ehlers in downtown Winona. While at Choate’s, she joined the YWCA and would swim laps during her lunch hour. She continued this for several years and at age 61 was discovered by swim coach Trip Hedrick. He convinced her to join the Winona chapter of the Masters Swimmers and in her first three years she set six state and regional records and received 15 national medals. At the age of 64 Phyllis fell on the ice and broke her hip which temporarily stopped her swimming competition and prevented her from continuing the same line of work. She was not ready to retire so she decided to pursue her AA degree from Winona Technical College. She was the oldest student in her class and one of her instructors relayed that the younger students were inspired by her energy, her hunger for learning, and wisdom of age. Phyllis graduated at the age of 66 and was immediately hired by the Technical College to work as a flex lab assistant. She assisted employed people wanting to enhance their skills and/or work toward a degree. Phyllis retired in 2003 at the age of 79.
Phyllis amazed everyone with her competitive spirit and sheer determination to return to swimming competition after her hip replacement and within six months was back in training. She went on to continue to set additional Masters swim records. Her Minnesota Masters 50- and 100-yard freestyle for ages 65-69 and 70-74 plus her 200-yard freestyle (70-74) are still standing after 24 years.
Phyllis loved her family and always put them first. She was each child’s biggest supporter in whatever they decided to do no matter how big or small the endeavor. Everyone she met was instantly drawn to her. She had a way with making everyone she met feel special.
Phyllis had the gift of hospitality and her door was always open to anyone. She loved cooking and trying out new recipes. Every Sunday she would cook a big meal and family and many friends would come over and she would be “in heaven.”
Phyllis is survived by sons, John (Rose Mary) Staige and Allen (Joan) Staige; daughters, Pat (Steve Grabau) Staige and Janet (Brian) Stanton; grandsons, Casey Staige, Christapher Staige, Dan Staige, Mike Staige, Jason Laehn and Mike Rice; granddaughters, Jackie Staige, Charlotte Staige, Katie Staige, step-granddaughter Michelle Blahnik; and 13 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Earl; sisters, Georgia and Dorothy (aka DoDo); and son Phillip.
A memorial service will be held at 12 p.m. on Saturday, October 27, 2018, at Hoff Celebration of Life Center, 3480 Service Drive, Goodview, Minn., led by Funeral Celebrant Jodi Heim. Friends may call from 11 a.m. until the time of the service.
The family would like to thank the wonderful staff at St. Anne for the compassionate care of Phyllis.
Please feel free to share a memory of Phyllis with the family or sign the online guestbook at www.hofffuneral.com. Hoff Celebration of Life Center, Goodview, is assisting the family with arrangements.