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November 5, 1927 ~ January 30, 2024 (age 96) 96 Years Old
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Phyllis Herman passed away peacefully on January 30th at her home at The Atrium at The Cedars surrounded by the love of her family. She had a well-lived 96 years as an amazing mother, wife, grandmother, great-grandmother, daughter, friend, sister, aunt, journalist, voracious reader, health care advocate, engaged citizen, world traveler and strong role model. She will be missed by friends and family on two continents.
Born in New York, raised by her mother Evelyn (Eva) Lubash White, Phyllis was the youngest of three sisters. After graduating from Richmond Hill High School in Queens, New York and spending fond summers on Lake Elmore in Vermont, she began her educational journey at the University of Iowa, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and later a master’s degree in education from Hofstra University. Phyllis had a lifelong love of reading and travel; age was the only thing that slowed her down.
Phyllis was predeceased by three husbands. She claimed herself to be the luckiest person to have found so many wonderful, loving, and happy marriages. With her first husband, Aaron Messer, she had two children, Patricia Watson, and Samuel Messer. After a short stint as a stay-at-home mom, she returned to work and had a career that spanned journalism, health care organizations, and education. When her first husband developed end stage kidney disease, due to Alport Syndrome, she helped form (and later went on to become the executive director) the National Association of Patients on Hemodialysis and Transplantation. After Aaron’s death she had many happy years with Ben Herman in Florida. She became part of his children and grandchildren’s extended family. After Ben’s death, during a trip to England to study Charles Dickens, Phyllis met, and later married, Terence (Terry) O’Mara, a widower whose passion for literature matched hers. For several years they split their time between England and Florida. After Terry’s passing, Phyllis moved to Maine to be near family. Gigi, as she was fondly called, became a part of her great-grandchildren’s lives. She made dear friends at The Atrium but never quite came to love the Maine winter. Phyllis lived a life that inspired her family’s commitment to social responsibility. We will remember her warm smile and gentle, caring ways.
Phyllis is survived by her daughter Patricia Watson and her husband, Christopher; her son Sam Messer and his wife Eleanor Gaver; her three grandchildren Rebecca Asen and her husband Taylor Asen; John Watson and his wife Madeline Watson; and Josephine Messer, as well as four great-grandchildren: Davida Asen, Vivienne Asen, Leon Asen, and Wesley Watson. Phyllis was so proud of her family.
The family would like to thank the staff and wonderful people at The Atrium for their warmth and caring. They would also like to thank Kim at The Osher Inn, and the extraordinary team at Northern Light Hospice, especially Kathy, Joanie, and Cheryl, as well as Sharon and the team from Caregiving Solutions. All these people brought joy and peace to Phyllis during her life here in Maine. We also thank the Portland Public Library and staff.
In her memory Phyllis would love for you to pick up a book and read. If you wish to donate in her memory, please donate to the Alport Syndrome Foundation at https://alportsyndrome.org/. A graveside service will be held this Spring at Temple Beth El Memorial Park, Portland, Maine.