Phyllis Avery

Obituary of Phyllis Marie Unhold Avery

Phyllis Marie Unold Avery, 83, formerly of Cortland, NY, died February 22, 2012 at Heartland HealthCare in Ann Arbor, Michigan after a long illness. Mrs. Avery was predeceased by her husband of 56 years, Emerson R. Avery, Sr.

Mrs. Avery was a graduate of North Senior High School in Binghamton, NY, and she earned a Bachelors degree from Syracuse University, and a Masters in Education from SUNY Cortland. She was a practicing journalist before she became a mother. After raising six children, Mrs. Avery went back to school for her teaching certification and became an elementary school teacher at DeRuyter Central School until her retirement in 1994.

Always interested in and concerned about the children she taught, Mrs. Avery brought their joys and struggles home with her. In the years she was teaching, her students became a part of her life, and she had a profound and positive impact. Many of her former students, as young adults, wrote her notes of appreciation, thanking her for helping guide them and for caring so deeply. Following her retirement, Mrs. Avery wrote a book on teaching.

One of her favorite aides at Heartland always called her teacher, and Mrs. Avery was very responsive to that designation because it was so ingrained in her. Over the last few days of her life, her daughter Phyllis Ann noted that many of the staff stopped in to see her because she was one of their favorites, always offering a smile.

Mrs. Avery was deeply committed to her family and husband. She was very proud of her husband, children, and grandchildren and shared so much with them, particularly enjoying their many sporting events. She instilled in all of her children and grandchildren a respect for hard work and the importance of education. An avid reader, Mrs. Avery was also a great storyteller.

Although she preferred a sunny beach for vacationing, she willingly traveled to the far northern areas of Canada many times because she knew that Emerson, Sr. loved that beautiful wilderness.

Mrs. Avery is survived by her children Dianne (Beni Levi) Avery of Avilla, Indiana, Nancy (Daniel) Dafoe of Homer, NY, Robert (Philomena Mantella) Avery of Foxboro, Massachusetts, Lawrence (Lisa Harris) Avery of Albany, NY, and Phyllis Ann (Gary Weiner) Avery of Plymouth, Michigan. Her son Emerson R. Avery, Jr. (Marilyn Avery) died in 2007. Mrs. Avery is also survived by her granddaughters Colette Dafoe (David Cusano), Nicole Dafoe (Adam Naill), and Emily Weiner; grandsons Emerson R. (Sarah) Avery, III, Michael Avery, Vincent (Brienne) Avery, Nickolas Avery, Blaise Dafoe, Ethan Weiner, Victor Avery, and Matthew Weiner; and great-grandson Truman Naill.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Wright-Beard Funeral Home on 9 Lincoln Ave., Cortland, NY. Memorial gifts may be made to the Alzheimers Foundation of America.

Following the memorial service for Phyllis Marie Avery, her family will received friends and relatives at the home of Nancy and Daniel Dafoe in Little York.

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Just a note to say Mrs. Avery was especially kind to me when I visited their home and played with her children way back in the 1960's. I wish the entire Avery family my families condolences. Jameson Wells

Nancy: After reading about what a wonderful teacher and person your mother was, it is no surprise to me that you have also dedicated your life to this profession. I am sure she is proud of you. I am sorry for your loss and hope you will to convey condolences to your family. If you need any kind of support, please do not hesitate to ask. John Nichols

I was lucky enough to have Mrs. Avery for both my 4th and 5th grade teacher. Some of us would say we must be her favorites because she moved with us after 4th grade. 5th grade especially, was one of my favorite school years. Mrs. Avery had so much patience and I can still picture her face. I specifically remember doing things on the Carter and Ford elections. I am sure she left a lasting impression on all her former students. I hope her family will find peace in their many special memories of a very special person. Pam Spaulding Washbon

I was so sorry to hear about the loss of your mom and grandmother. Mrs. Avery was my 4th grade teacher many years ago. I hope your family can take comfort knowing that she had a big impact on many children in our little town. Alyssa Hammerschmidt

Dear Family, we were sorry to read about your mother's passing. Unfortunately we have to be out of town and will not be able to attend the memorial service. Your mother was a wonderful person and a great supporter of all your endeavors. Please know that we are thinking of all of you at this time. Sincerely, Dick and Mary Wagner

Many prayers and much sympathy to your family at this time. I was privileged to be one of Mrs Avery's 4th grade students. It was at a difficult period in my life and she guided me through the year with much love and caring. She will be missed by many. Janette Knapp

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