Delores Ione Phillips Fay, 84, of Topeka, passed away Monday, December 28, 2020.
She was born December 8, 1936, in Madison, Kansas, the daughter of Loris Dale and Veda Ione Phillips (Milner).
She graduated from Washburn University with a Bachelor's Degree in History and was employed by the Menninger Foundation for 33 years.
She married John Clement Fay. They later divorced.
She is survived by a son, Philip Anthony Fay.
A private graveside ceremony was held, with interment at Mount Hope Cemetery, 4700 SW 17th Street, Topeka, KS 66604.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 SW 10th Ave, Topeka, KS 66604.
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Eulogy for Delores Fay
By Philip Anthony Fay
Delores Ione Phillips was the child of Loris Dale (“L.D.”) Phillips and Veda Ione Milner, and was born in their hometown of Madison, Kansas, about 20 miles south of Emporia on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. L.D. worked for Mobil Oil and its predecessors, and that work took the family to Topeka in my mother’s pre-school years. She attended Randolph Elementary, Boswell Junior High, Topeka High School, and Washburn University. She pledged Zeta Tau Alpha, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History, and met a law student named John Fay. She married him, they had me, and moved to Manhattan where John started a law practice. They divorced in 1968, and Mom and I returned to Topeka, where we lived close to her parents, L.D. and Veda, and the four of us, and eventually just the two of us, were the family unit.
These are descriptive facts, the basic statistics of a life. But I can assure you, the facts and statistics are never the whole story, especially when it comes to the essential nature of a life. In reflecting on my mother’s life, two seemingly contradictory descriptors ring true: Ordinary, and Extraordinary.
First, the ordinary. My mother was a child from a small Kansas town, now mostly defunct, borne of parents raised on farms in the Flint Hills, who left the farm and were hard-working and devoted to her and to making a better life for themselves – the classic model that each generation does better than the previous one. They were people of the Great Depression who held many of the qualities, both the best and the worst, that we often associate with rural America. This is the story of many.
My mother was a child of the post-World War II time. She was the first of her family to graduate university, and as did many women of that time, proceeded directly to marriage and childbearing. She was basically satisfied that her life landed in this smaller capital city in this smaller rectangular state. She became a decidedly city woman out of rural roots. She was an excellent cook and a voracious reader and loved movies and television and had a constant battle with the storage capacity of her DVR and the clutter on her desk. She loved to drive to Lawrence to Wheatfields Bakery to buy loaves of Multigrain Wheat and Country French bread and to stop at Sprouts for groceries. She loved to drive to Kansas City to shop at Whole Foods and Penzey’s and to buy clothes. Ordinary things perhaps. But exactly of her choosing.
And they existed alongside some extraordinary things. When marriage didn’t work out, she became a working single mother before society caught up and openly recognized that circumstance. Her career landed her in the role of administrative secretary for the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis at the Menninger Foundation, where she was immersed among training analysts and students of many backgrounds and cultures from around the world. This small-city woman of rural roots found herself in a world of diversity and intellect, making annual winter trips to New York City and staying in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel as part of the Institute’s delegation to the American Psychoanalytic Association meetings. She relished the cultural amenities available during those NYC trips, and once told me that if she could live anywhere, it would be along Central Park. An extraordinary aspiration for this ordinary Kansas girl.
She was the road warrior who couldn’t stand being away from home. She thought little of driving 10 or 11 hours in a single day to visit me when I lived in Duluth or to my place in Texas, much to the amazement of most who didn’t know her. We visited England in the early 90s, a trip she relished given her favorite history was British. But my she was keen to return home.
She had a refined eye – some might say that’s a euphemism for ‘picky’ – and both are right! She set an example for me for doing things fully and well, an approach I use as the template for my own life.
She possessed extraordinary resolve. As her maladies appeared and progressed, she displayed a stamina and strength I had not previously understood. She persevered, adapted, coped, struggled in the face of a population of maladies any one of which would have overwhelmed many. And when she finally said ‘enough’ in the last two months, she still showed a streak of optimism and knew her own mind. She wanted to come home and take it from there.
To close, I am grateful for my mother’s extraordinary ordinary life, lived on her terms. I am grateful for having her as my mother, and for the example she set. I am grateful that I could say she was my friend, in many ways a best friend. I am grateful for her welcoming Nicolle into our little family unit. I miss her terribly. I am grateful she is freed now. She lives on in us and with our love.
This Is the Time to Be Slow
by John O’Donohue
This is the time to be slow
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.