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Phyllis Laurel Hergenrader

June 30, 1939 February 21, 2019
Phyllis Laurel Hergenrader
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Obituary for Phyllis Laurel Hergenrader

Phyllis Laurel (Arnold) Hergenrader, 79, of Lincoln passed away Thursday, February 21. She was born June 30, 1939 in Holyoke, Colorado, the first child of Paul and Rosa Arnold who farmed west of Imperial, Nebraska. In her childhood she developed a strong love of animals, especially the small lambs, piglets, and chicken that were on the farm. That love continued into adulthood and now included wildlife, birds, frogs, cats, dogs, trees and flowers, among others. She really enjoyed the beauty of wildflowers, especially those in alpine and desert regions and took many photos of them. Her albums have hundreds of pictures of these flowers and she never tired, year after year, of going back these areas to look at the wildflowers, even though she had seen them many times before. She also had a hybrid tea rose garden at home where she grew more than 75 rose bushes and many different varieties of tea roses. She won several awards at the annual Lincoln rose show sponsored by the Lincoln Rose Society for the beauty of her roses. She also enjoyed gardening and every year grew a garden that produced not only enough produce for her family, but also for friends and neighbors.
Phyllis attended Chase County High School, graduating in 1957 as salutatorian of her class. She was also very active in 4-H and won many purple ribbons for her projects at the county and state fairs. In fall 1957, she began her college career at the University of Nebraska. The first week she was there, she met her future husband Gary. They married two years later, June 7, 1959. This year Phyllis and Gary would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Their son, Alan, was born in 1961 and two years later, their daughter, Anne. Phyllis suspended her college education after one year and went to work to support Gary as he completed his undergraduate studies. In the fall of 1961 the young family moved to Madison, Wisconsin where Gary would continue his graduate education at the University of Wisconsin. She continued working and supporting her family, first as a secretary in the Department of Theoretical Chemistry, and after daughter Anne was born, as a baby-sitter for the children of other graduate students who also lived in graduate student housing.
After Gary completed his graduate studies and began a post-doctoral program, Phyllis went back to school to continue her own college education. In 1967, the family moved back to Lincoln where Gary had accepted a faculty position in the Department of Zoology and Phyllis continued her undergraduate program at the University. She graduated in 1971 with a B.S. (with distinction) in Biological Sciences. She was elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa scholastic honor society her senior year. After graduation, she enrolled in the Medical Technology program at Bryan Hospital, receiving her certificate as a Medical Technologist after one year. She subsequently also received certification as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist. In 1973, she began working as a medical technologist at the Lincoln Clinic. She advanced to increasingly responsible positions there, first as the Supervisor of Immunology and then as General Laboratory Supervisor. From 1980-1986 she also was the teaching coordinator for the MLT program. In 1979, Phyllis was a consultant and part-time instructor for Immunology at Southeast Community College. In 1977 she was the recipient of the Florence Boyles Outstanding Medical Technologist from the Lancaster Society for Medical Technology for her contributions in the field of Medical Technology in research and service.
Phyllis retired as Medical Technologist and Clinical Laboratory Scientist after 20 years with the clinic to stay at home and help raise her first grandchild, Hannah, whose mother, Anne, was busy establishing her dental practice. Phyllis was elected to 3 successive 4-year terms as a Director on the Lower Platte South NRD Board of Directors where she provided input and direction for environmental matters coming before the NRD board.
Phyllis loved to travel and see new places and learn new things. She and Gary visited almost all the states, including Alaska (several times), Mexico, Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland. A trip to Europe took them to Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. They also visited Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica and New Zealand. New Zealand was a highlight of their travels as was a trip to Alaska in winter to see the northern lights.
Survivors include her husband, Gary, son Dr. Alan Hergenrader, Waterloo, daughter Dr. Anne Williamson and spouse, Dr. Rick Williamson, Iowa City, Iowa, five grandchildren, Hannah, Allison, Alexandra, Kipp, and Cameron, step- grandson Colby Williamson, Bradenton, Florida, step-grandson Matthew Hurlbert, Nixa, Missouri, brother and sister-in-law Claude and Carol Arnold, Ogallala, sister and brother-in-law Mildred and Pat Wright, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Rich and Joyce Hass and Joe and Pat Masek, all of Gering, and several nieces and nephews.
Per her request, there will be no formal services. A Celebration of Life will be held sometime in the spring. Cremation. She asked her family that her ashes be scattered amongst the wildflowers in an alpine meadow in the mountains. Memorials are suggested for the Capitol City Humane Society and the University of Nebraska Foundation.


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