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February 10, 2012 > Obituary: Phyllis Merrifield

Obituary: Phyllis Merrifield

Passed Away January 23, 2012 (age 92)

Arriving in Fremont from New York in 1961, Phyllis was active in the Fremont community for more than 50 years. Described as a one-woman tour de force, her coalition of entrepreneurial music lovers provided the impetus to create the Fremont Symphony Orchestra (FSO). In recognition of her achievements, Phyllis was awarded the Rotary Club's prestigious Paul Harris Award by Niles Rotary in 1990.

The Symphony recognized Phyllis in 1998 for her generous support and 27 years of service on the board of directors. She sponsored the FSO Young Artist Competition from 1998-2002 and on November 28, 2011was honored at a ceremony at Mission Coffee Roasting Company for her role in founding the Fremont Symphony Guild 46 years ago.

Always a tireless volunteer, Phyllis enjoyed organizing Sunday afternoon musical recitals in Fremont homes, which made high quality live music accessible to local audiences, showcased young artists and raised funds for the Symphony. She was so devoted to the concept that four years ago, she organized a recital from her room in a rehabilitation center while recovering from an injury.

The League of Women Voters of Fremont had already formed when Phyllis and her family moved to Fremont and she became an active member almost the moment she arrived. Over the years, she served on the board of directors in many capacities, including president.

Phyllis served on the Alameda County Arts Commission for seven years, and the Fremont Cultural Arts Council, where she judged young artist competitions. She also served on the Artsfund Grants Panel, and volunteered at the Smith Center to assist with musical performances.

A 48-year member of the Music Teachers Association of California, Phyllis taught piano until her death, continuing to do so even after moving from her home on Beloit Street into Merrill Gardens. She influenced multiple generations and helped her students appreciate good music.

Phyllis had a full and rich life, traveling the world; enjoying her many friends, relatives, and students; and always giving back to her community.

She will be missed.


A memorial service will be held for Phyllis Merrifield at Merrill Gardens, 2860 Country Drive, in Fremont, Sunday, March 18 at 3 pm.

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