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Phyllis Marie (Oberle) Johnson 1937 - 2021
Phyllis Marie (Oberle) Johnson

ENSIGN — Phyllis Marie (Oberle) Johnson, 83, died suddenly of cancer on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Midlothian, Va. It was the 15th anniversary of her husband’s death. 

Phyllis was born on March 17, 1937, at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Dodge City, Kan., to Cecelia (Gerstenkorn) and John Oberle. She attended Sacred Heart School, Dodge City Senior High School (Class of 1955), and Dodge City Junior College. After graduating Junior College in 1957, she married the love of her life, Richard Leo Johnson of Ensign, on May 27. In the following two years, the pair spent time in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Alexandria, Va., while Richard served in the Air Force. Their daughter, Barbara Ellen, was born in Virginia and, soon after, they moved back to Kansas to settle down at the family farm near Ensign. Their son, Richard Shannon, was born a year later.  

In 1969, Phyllis graduated from St. Mary of the Plains College with a B.S. in Elementary Education. She went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Kansas State University and graduated in 1982. A few years later, in 1989, she received her certification to become a principal from Fort Hays State University. Phyllis was passionate about education, especially about finding what was best for her students, and spent 30 years at Sacred Heart Cathedral School in Dodge City. She taught 5th through 8th grade, mostly math and science, for 24 of those years, and was the school’s first lay principal, serving for 6 years. 

Richard and Phyllis were very active in the community, notably as alumni of St. Mary of the Plains College. Along with Richard, she was a recipient of two awards from St. Mary’s: the Outstanding Alumni Award and the Bishop Marion F. Forst Award. After Richard passed away at the farm in February of 2006, Phyllis moved to Midlothian, Va. She spent the rest of her life living with her daughter, Ellen, son-in-law, Karl Chang, and granddaughter, Cecelia Chang. Phyllis continued her hobbies of sewing, taking classes, and traveling the country to visit family and friends. She was well-loved for the chocolate chip pancakes she would make for Cecelia’s friends. At the time of her death, Phyllis was a member of St. Edward the Confessor Parish and active in the Life-Long Learning Institute, both in Midlothian, Va.  

Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents, Cecelia and John Oberle, and her husband, Richard Leo Johnson. She is survived by her brother, John (Jack) Oberle; daughter, Barbara Ellen Johnson; son, Richard Shannon Johnson; and granddaughters, Cecelia and Amanda; as well as numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Vigil service will be at 7 p.m. Friday, June 25, 2021 at Ziegler Funeral Chapel, Dodge City. Funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 26, 2021 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 901 Central Ave., Dodge City, with Fr. Wesley Schawe and Fr. Ted Stoecklein presiding. Inurnment will be at 10 a.m. Monday, June 28, 2021 in the Kansas Veteran Cemetery, Ft. Dodge, Kan. There will be no public viewing, cremation has taken place. Friends may sign the register from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at Ziegler Funeral Chapel. Donations in her memory can be made to the Richard and Phyllis Johnson Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas or to the Manna House both in care of Ziegler Funeral Chapel, 1901 N. 14th Ave., Dodge City, Kansas 67801.  Condolences may be sent to

Funeral arrangements provided by

Ziegler Funeral Chapel 

1901 N. 14th Ave. 

Dodge City, KS 67801

Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, June 20, 2021