|27 Jul 2021|
Written by Christopher, Phyllis’ son
peacefully in a nursing home on 27 July 2021, while recuperating from a hospital stay. Despite declining health, she spent most of the previous year in her own home with her daughter, though separate from the rest of her family due to COVID-19. She faced this challenging time with her typical determination, humour and stoicism.
Phyllis was born on 9 December 1929 to Arthur and Winifred Taylor in Calcutta, India, where her father worked as a solicitor, returning to the UK with her sister to go to boarding school in 1936. With the outbreak of WWII, the sisters undertook the perilous journey by sea with their maternal grandparents to join their mother in Australia. There, they attended the New England Girls’ School in New South Wales, while spending holidays with their mother and grandparents in a series of hotels. During these years, she only rarely saw her father when he was able to make occasional visits from India.
Returning to the UK in 1946, she was enrolled at St Swithun’s for the autumn term. During her time at the school, she became, amongst other things, the President of the Mission Society, as well as being a school prefect and she achieved entrance to Bedford College (now part of Royal Holloway, University of London) to read Social Studies.
Having qualified as a Hospital Almoner in 1949, supporting the social welfare of patients recovering from long-term illness, she worked in Birmingham and University College Hospital, London, before taking a position at Peppard Chest Hospital, a TB sanatorium, in 1959. There she met ‘Lee’ (Dr Gang Tong Lee), a Chinese doctor who charmed her with his record collection. Much to the shock of their respective families they traded in both their Morris Minors and brought a VW camper van before their wedding on 19 July 1961. Despite coming from very different backgrounds their shared values and outlook on life resulted in a very loving and successful marriage, which endured until Lee’s death aged 98 in 2018.
Following her husband’s move into General Practice, and a move to Swindon in 1966, Phyllis started the unsung job of a GPs wife, whilst bringing up a young family. Despite her focus on family activities she continued to have a keen interest in the wider world and was always concerned about what people where inflicting on each other and the natural world. Even with debilitating health issues she was very active in the community and involved in the local parish and charities.
For the last nine years of her life she lived in Birmingham with her husband, very close by to her daughter and frequently visited by her son, daughter in law, grandson and granddaughter.
She will be particularly remembered for her strong sense of social justice and the warmth and interest she had for the people who came into her life.