In Memory of




Obituary for Phyllis Marjorie Schwartz

Phyllis Marjorie Schwartz (nee Main)
Sept. 21, 1930 – Jan. 24, 2024

With great sadness, wrapped in love and gratitude for a life so well lived with countless gifts of herself to others, we share the news of Phyllis’ peaceful passing with family at her side Jan. 24, 2024 at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora.

“I’ve lived a good life, a bit messy, but a good life” Phyllis recently said. She made the most of each of her 93 years, navigating hard times, facing happiness and tragedy with grace, determination, optimism, practicality, and openness to new experiences. Her sense of humour and wit were always at the ready. She was a formidable force, but made it look effortless.

Once Phyllis set her mind on something, she was all in. Leaving home at 17, she put herself through nursing school. Then, after raising a family, while working in nursing management, she earned a B.A. Admin and M.B.A.

Family always came first for Phyllis, both immediate and extended, including friends who had become family. She demonstrated this with gifts of time and energy, and hundreds of her knitting and sewing creations. She listened with intention and supported with wisdom.

As a wife and mother, Phyllis’ love shone through every day, putting our needs and interests ahead of her own. It’s hard to know when she ever found time for herself because she was always so busy taking care of us. She was a friend, teacher, mentor, advisor, cheerleader, skating/baton/music coach and always there to catch and support us.

You never needed to wonder what Phyllis thought about something. She was very direct, rarely hesitant to speak her mind and would do so very clearly and precisely both in personal and work situations. Family, friends, co-workers and staff all knew this but also understood she would respectfully listen and ‘perhaps’ even shift her position.

Born in Balmoral MB, surrounded by extended family, Phyllis suffered a huge loss at the age of 6 with the death of her father. Life on a farm with her mother and two sisters during the depression was not easy. When reminiscing she would talk of the hard work, but just as often the stories were of happy family and sister times.

Shortly after graduating as an RN (Winnipeg General Hospital Class of 54B), Phyllis was hired as the matron of the Ashern MB hospital. Saul Schwartz, a member of the hiring committee took a real liking to her, and the feeling was mutual. They were married in 1955, initially living in Ashern, later moving to Winnipeg, Brandon and back to Winnipeg with their three daughters.

Phyllis took a break from nursing, returning to it after the girls were in high school. Over the next 23 years she worked at the Misericordia and Concordia Hospitals and the Winnipeg Red Cross. Starting as a float nurse and while earning her degrees she quickly took on administrative roles, advancing to supervisor, staffing coordinator, assistant to and then director of nursing and nursing manager.

Phyllis loved gardening, indoors and out. Over the years her extensive vegetable gardens shrank, giving way to flower gardens and then to balcony gardens. At the end of each summer dozens of plants would move indoor for the winter.

In her mid-fifties Phyllis got hooked on ballroom dancing! She had natural talent and worked hard at it, devoting many hours each week to it. Her dancing was beautiful to watch as were the gowns she designed and created.

During the summer Phyllis spent as much time as possible at the family cabin at Silver Bay, Lake Manitoba and for several years she enjoyed a winter getaway in Barbados or Mexico

Phyllis had a remarkable zest for life and the strength to take on all it delivered. That strength was tested with Saul’s passing in 1983 and the tragic loss of two of her daughters, Betty Rose with her husband Ingo (Jan. 1999) and Carolynn (May 1999).

Each time, and there were many, that Phyllis broke a bone or needed surgery she pushed herself, returning to her normal level of activity in record time, surprising everyone including the medical folks. Her recuperative prowess was demonstrated after a bad car accident in 2019 which she barely survived and hospitalized her for 6 months. Within 15 months of the accident, she was walking with her walker and on her way to some level of independence and moved to Kenora to be close to Diane and Jake.

Unfortunately, repeated health issues and falls took a major toll in 2022. In spite of the pain and suffering she endured Phyllis’ sense of humour was always in play, and she kept us laughing to her last day. Only because of her amazing team of caregivers were we able to keep Phyllis in her home until early January. We will be forever grateful to the women who took exceptional care of Phyllis through those tough years – Heather Nolan, Payton Morrison, Sherry Wykes, Judy Moffat, Roxann O’Connor, Barb Creed, Sandy Ronnebeck and Allie. More than caregivers, they were part of her family and cared for her as family.

Missing her always, remembering and treasuring all the laughter and tears, joys and heartaches, adventures and quiet moments shared are her daughter Diane Schwartz-Williams and son-in-law Jack Williams (Jake), son-in-law Mark Hnatowich, cherished sister Shirley Jahns-Mulvey, nieces especially dear to her - Pat Jahns-Kraak and Janet Peterson, grandchildren Sara (Jon) and Geoff, great grandchildren Nate, James, Liam and Elle, dozens of nieces, nephews and cousins, many longtime and new friends, and her treasured furry companions KaliKo and Kricket.

We are grateful for the care and compassion of the 3rd floor nursing team, Dr. Kowal, Dr. D. Kyle, and Charlene Melillo in January and Dr. Thomas, the Lake of the Woods District Hospital nursing, physio and emergency staff and paramedics over the past 3 years.

Celebration of life will be held on Monday, February 5, 2024, 1:00 p.m., Old Armouries, 316 1st St. N, Kenora ON (corner of 1st N. & Matheson; on street parking or lot adjacent to Armouries at top of hill).

It will be live streamed and recorded.

Phyllis loved a party. In that spirit we invite family and friends to stay (or return) to join us for more stories, refreshments and music at the Old Armouries (3-7pm)

In lieu of flowers, consider giving a friend, family member or stranger a shoulder to lean on, encouragement, a lending hand or a simple kindness in her memory.