Phyllis lived at the Fellowship for 17 years and though reluctant at first, grew to love the community.
Phyllis Okon lived a full life. She grew up in the Bronx, the daughter of a single working mother and was raised by the community, a theme that continued to run throughout her lifetime.
Phyllis moved to Rockland County when farms abounded, out into the wilderness. She met Saul Okon at a Far Rockaway Beach and got married to the love of her life. She had two children, Ann and Ira. Phyllis formed lifelong friendships with neighbors and decided she wasn’t done with giving back. She attended RCC, St Thomas Aquinas and eventually Fordham University where she earned a Master’s degree in Social Work and was promptly hired by the newly formed Frawley Outpatient Clinic at Good Samaritan Hospital.
While raising her two children and working, she was secretly planning her get away. She and Saul both quit their jobs in 1980 and took off to see the world. They sold all their belongings and left for their adventure, visiting India, Africa and newly opened China (posing as school teachers). She and Saul loved to travel and delighted in the ethnicity, culture and seeing the different sites and of course the enjoying the food. They both agreed that New Zealand was a favorite or theirs.
They arrived back in Rockland broke but happy. Phyllis again worked for the Frawley Clinic until one day she just couldn’t. One day a patient was complaining about how their partner didn’t like their cooking, after seeing abject poverty on her travels, this seemed inconsequential to Phyllis, so she took a new position as an advocate for a senior citizen program in Rockland County.
About this time, Saul was diagnosed with cancer and Phyllis stayed by his side, feeding him healthy food until he passed away. Less than one month later, she was recruited by the Nuns at the Thorpe Senior Center to help run the center. She ran several programs, and some at the Fellowship. We later discovered she was on a scouting mission and checked out the Fellowship to see if it was where she wanted to retire.
Phyllis lived at the Fellowship for 17 years and though reluctant at first, grew to love the community. She sold bread, ran Alzheimer’s programs which included music programs and enjoyed communal meals and events. It is so fitting that she passed on at a place where she was so loved and was beloved.
To make a gift to the Fellowship Community in honor of Phyllis Okon please visit fellowshipcommunity.org/donate