Phyllis Ann Ebner Gerber passed peacefully on June 15 following a 5-year illness. She was surrounded by flowers, her family, a rose scented candle and Beatles music. Phyl, as she was known to everyone, spent her early years in West Haven, CT and at a young age moved to Great Neck, NY where she attended Saddle Rock Elementary School and Great Neck North Junior and Senior High Schools. As a 10th grader, she met John Gerber who was a senior, and began a 50+ year relationship. Phyl attended the University of Hartford for two years before marrying John in 1973. They lived in Ithaca, NY for 5 years where Phyl learned to become a potter, often selling her wares at local craft fairs. They moved to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1978 where Jacob was born and then to Urbana, IL in 1979. Phyl loved her life as a fulltime mom in Urbana, where Brian and Jeremy were born and her boys spent their early years. The family moved to Amherst, MA in 1992, where Phyl worked as a potter and a teaching assistant for special needs children at the Wildwood Elementary School until she retired in 2013.
Phyl loved to ride her bicycle long distances, read at the beach, tend her beautiful gardens, jog with her friends, hike mountains with John, and most of all she loved to get down on the floor to play with her grandchildren. She lived for her family but also had many friends who loved her dearly from all stages of her life. Phyl especially appreciated the support of friends who took her on many outings during her illness and joined her on her deck to talk, laugh and cry toward the end.
One of her friends wrote; “Phyl has fought a strong and courageous battle against each and every debilitating stage of ALS for nearly 5 years. Last year she was the keynote speaker for the annual ALS Walkathon in Northampton, MA. Phyl was never defined by the limitations of her challenges. She lived each day to the full extent of her best ability. Phyl loved her family and friends; and has taught us many life lessons through her daily acts of courage and resilience.”
Phyl will be missed terribly by her husband of 48 years, John Gerber, and their three sons and spouses, Jacob and Shannon, Brian and Belita, and Jeremy and Sam. She is survived by her father, Milton Ebner and his spouse Florrie, brothers and wives, Stuart and Gretel, and Howard and Francine, her mother-in-law Peggy Gerber, and brothers-in-law and their spouses Dan and Jen, and Don and Roselle, and all of their children, and finally by her beloved grandchildren, Noah, Colin, Elena and Lucia.
Phyl’s family is planning a celebration of life sometime in the fall, associated with the ALS Walk-a-Thon in Look Park on Sunday, September 13. They are requesting donations in lieu of flowers to the ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter. Here is the link if you would like to donate:
The obit appeared side by side with one of her closest friends on June 20….