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Phyllis Elizabeth NekvasilOctober 19, 1938 ~ July 8, 2017 (age 78)
Phyllis Elizabeth Nekvasil
October 19, 1938 - July 8, 2017
Phyllis Elizabeth (Januchowski) Nekvasil, 78, passed away on Saturday, July 8, 2017, at St. Anthony Hospice Center, Michigan City, Indiana, due to complications from Inclusion Body Myositis.
She was born October 19, 1938, to Leo and Elizabeth (Jarka) Januchowski at St. Anthony Hospital, Michigan City. And the world would never be the same.
Phyllis graduated from Elston High School in 1956 and married Paul Eugene Nekvasil on May 19, 1956. Soon after, they bought what was billed as a "spacious" 20’ x 24’ government-surplus home for $1,245. As their family grew to include six children, they added on to the house through the years, using reclaimed wood from farms and other buildings, long before it became popular to do so. According to a LaPorte Herald-Argus article about their home, "The whole house and barn are a testament to one post-war couple’s ingenuity, hard work and determination, rare in these days of ‘having it all.’" Phyllis and Paul lived there for 57 years.
For 29 years, Phyllis raised their children and ran an in-home daycare. In 1985, she chased her dream of becoming a news reporter, starting as a part-time receptionist at WIMS radio to get her foot in the door. She worked her way up to on-air advertising voice talent, creating and performing humorous commercials. One of the funniest was an Al’s Supermarket ad that may have been the world’s first Polish rap, featuring the lyrics "We got a keg of beer and a pierogi here," with Phyllis beatboxing.
At the age of 58, she became a radio news reporter, despite a lack of journalism education or experience. Due to her curious nature (or just pure nosiness), she covered everything from school board meetings to murder trials for WIMS, which earned her the nickname "Scoop." Phyllis interviewed political figures, authors, professional athletes and celebrities including Robert Kennedy Jr., Mario Cuomo, George Stephanopoulos, Camilla Anwar Sadat, Mary Matalin, James Carville and Greg Louganis.
Upon Phyllis’ retirement from WIMS in 2000, Congressman Tim Roemer wrote, "Your presence over the radio will be missed throughout our community, to say nothing of how I will miss you when I come to visit. The dedication you showed in attaining your goal to report the news for WIMS is a model for all to follow. The eagerness and enthusiasm you portray while reporting the news with genuine compassion serve as a testament to your dedication…I will miss your warm personality and good questions."
She also worked at the Arthritis Foundation and MCTV, the local television station.
Family, though, was the most important to Phyllis. Known to her grandchildren as "Baga," she loved spoiling them, whether that was granting requests for jelly beans and potato chips for breakfast or leading shopping sprees at Goodwill for "treasures." God was at work when He allowed her to live long enough to see her twin great-granddaughters who were born in November.
Phyllis’ devotion to family was evident in her avid interest in genealogy. She spent countless hours researching the bloodlines of the Januchowski, Jarka, Nekvasil and Jorgensen family trees. She also enjoyed helping others trace their family histories.
Phyllis was happiest when getting together with people, whether it was family, friends or both. She loved coordinating Elston class reunions with her best friend Mary Francis Stine Mitchell almost as much as throwing family reunions and holiday gatherings.
Phyllis was one of a kind. Only she could try to convince two men to break their Lenten sacrifice on Ash Wednesday by having cake, only to find out they were priests. (She asked them to not tell the pope.)
Only Phyllis could receive the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and then tell stories that had the priest bursting out in laughter. Even on her deathbed, Phyllis was a hilarious storyteller.
And in what is believed to be a true testament to her Catholic faith, a double-rainbow appeared right after she was anointed.
She loved her family, Catholic faith, coffee, Coca Cola, sleeves of Snickers, Fannie May candy, genealogy, historic postcards, Sam Elliott, Mark Harmon, Perry Como, Madea movies and Pope John Paul II. She loved staying up late and sleeping in, connecting with people on Facebook, going to the casino and hunting for treasures at Goodwill. She hated waking up early, listening to people who didn’t use proper grammar and paying for anything without a coupon. Her e-mail address was GonnaGetOrganized. But she didn’t.
Phyllis dealt with multiple illnesses including Inclusion Body Myositis, diabetes, heart disease and macular degeneration, but she never complained about them. She loved her life and was incredibly resourceful in being independent for as long as she could.
Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents, her daughter Jean and her husband Paul, who passed away in 2015 after 59 years of marriage.
Survivors include her children Cindy (Mike) Hester, Trish Hill, Ted (Jill) Nekvasil, Suzanne (Mark) Robinson and Amy Nekvasil; grandchildren Jake (Jill) Nekvasil, Jessica Ray (David Ross), Amanda Rafalski, Alex Nekvasil, Riley Hill, Mitch Robinson, Cooper Robinson and Bradley Nekvasil; great-granddaughters Nora Nekvasil and twins Vera and Ruby Ross; and siblings Delores Brinkman and Pat Finney.
Visitation will take place at 9:30 a.m. Central time on Tuesday, July 11 at Ott/Haverstock Funeral Chapel, Michigan City, followed by a funeral mass at Noon Central time at Queen of All Saints Church, Michigan City, with Father Kevin Huber officiating.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Mary of the Lake Catholic School (New Buffalo, Michigan) or Marquette Catholic High School (Michigan City, Indiana). The family would like to thank the extraordinarily caring nurses and aides at St. Anthony Hospice Center who treated Phyllis as if she were one of their own.