In Memory

Phyllis J. Baird (Harrell)

Phyllis J. Baird (Harrell)

Phyllis Jean Harrell, 61, of Godfrey, formerly of Odin and Centralia, died at 2:09 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, at Jersey Community Hospital.

She was born Oct. 1, 1951, in Louisiana, Mo., daughter of Harold R. and Ella Faye (Wood) Baird of Godfrey. She married William A. Harrell May 9, 1969, in Alton. He died May 25, 2008. Phyllis was a retired LPN and was of the Christian faith.

Surviving are daughters, Nicole J. White and husband, Brian, of Paducah, Ky., Heather R. Gibson and husband, Paul, of Springfield; son, William R. Harrell and wife, Vicki, of Centralia; sisters, Sandi Geller and husband, Jim, of Tulsa, Okla., Lori Schwartz and husband, Gary, of Lake Cormorant, Miss.; brothers, Richard Baird and wife, Theresa, of Alton, Butch Chapman and wife, Brenda, of Jerseyville; sister-in-law, Cassondra Stevenson and husband, Bob, of Centralia; brother-in-law, Roger Harrell and wife, Beth, of Salem; six grandchildren, Elizabeth Harrell, Gaelin White, Ilisa White, Erin Harrell, Major Gibson and Myra Gibson.

The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at Rogers-Atkins Funeral Home, Salem. The Rev. Ray Draper will officiate. Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30. Burial will be at Peaceful Valley Cemetery, Odin.

Memorials may be to American Heart Association.



Alton Telegraph

Death, a commanding general over time, marches triumphantly across the field, leaving no stone unturned, nor one soul left alone. Sometimes, a siege is ongoing; one’s mortality is contemplated, debated, and an ultimate end result prepared for psychologically and emotionally, among family and friends.

However, death also attacks viciously, striking when least expected, nor definitively anticipated, as a conclusion is reached in equal terms. Cessation of life is the final steppingstone every human soul endures. Nevertheless, sudden ending of life leaves many wondering, regretting and examining what might have been done to prevent the passing.

Phyllis Jean Baird Harrell died in the wee hours of Sunday morning, overcome by a massive heart attack. My sister, just a baby at 61 years of age, strengthened this world with an abiding faith in compassion and love; a passionate drive to expend every ounce of energy in a positive manner.

Apparently, her last words were “I am cold, where is my coat or please get my coat,” spoken to an EMT in an ambulance as “time” expired. Ironic, considering an abundance of warmth emanated through her soul and beyond for such a short lifetime.

First cousin Linda Baird, living in Texas, stated the obvious. “Her wonderful laugh touched everyone she met. She could make me laugh my concerns away in just a moment or two; better than anyone else I’ve ever known. Poking fun at herself so completely took my mind in a whole other direction, put everything back into perspective.’

Like her surviving mother, Ella Faye Baird, Phyllis graciously conveyed a sense of commonality between every human soul; her ability to listen attentively, praise unceasingly, forgive unconditionally, elevated her stature without power, wealth or affluence attached. Like her father, Harold R. Baird Sr., she loved tradition and history and had a deeply ingrained foundation of integrity.

William Harrell, husband and partner on earth, valiantly encountered effects from Agent Orange; contracted in Vietnam and an ugly intruder terminating Bill’s life on May 25, 2008. Bill served honorably in Vietnam as an Army soldier; and unbelievably in Iraq as a member of the Illinois National Guard.

On Memorial Day 2006 at Alton’s National Cemetery, Bill spoke eloquently to an audience at the first annual Sunset Ceremony. In attendance that evening, Phyllis expressed a patriotic gratefulness for living in the United States of America. Though frustrated and angry with America for failure to recognize Bill’s Agent Orange health crisis; Phyllis persevered in growing agony as her husband’s breath of life gradually subsided.

If Phyllis and Bill could address America today, they would both smile and frown; they would be philosophical, progressive, and conservative; respectfully acknowledging leadership, while condemning a multitude of political decisions; faithfully loving one another, while cherishing their children and grandchildren; voting in elections, while questioning value of a vote.




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08/27/13 11:30 PM #1    

Norma Baron

Words seem to pale after reading Richard Baird's comments today about the death of our classmate Phyllis Baird Harrell. 

I've wondered so many times what ever happened to her upon our graduation.

Not even sure anymore what classes I knew her from.  I think we must have had lunch together sometimes ... I remember our high speed chase to get to Logan's Dairy for a Red Bird Special and be back and parked within a half hour.

Her smile that her brother mentioned is the first and last thing I picture when I think of her.

Several girls in our class married straight out of high school.  I'd say I was amazed at her planned wedding being around the same time of our graduation.  She didn't even get a chance to take a deep breath ... nor did she need it.

We were just friends in school ... not even close enough to be asked or go to her wedding.

The day we got our cap and gowns ... we were so excited we left the pit and drove around in my bomb of a station wagon driving around with our caps on and tassels (on our caps) flapping in the breeze of our rolled down windows shouting "We gaduated!  We gaduated!"  Purposly mispronouncing the word "graduated".

Not even sure if I saw her at the graduation as crazy as that was standing in line for our near thousand classmates couldn't sit in the auditorium because family and friends had taken over our seats ...

I know I never saw her again.  But, I never forgot her either.  I wish I had known about losing her this year and could have been there to say good by.

Sounds like she had a full life ... Atta Girl Phyllis ... RIP!

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