Phyllis Rae (Dowell) Thacker (82 yrs) died on Friday July 17, 2020 at the home of her daughter in New Salisbury, IN. She was born in New Albany on August 9, 1937 to the late Henry and Delores (Bega) Dowell. She was raised by her Great Uncle George and Great Aunt Mary Aline (Rhinebarger) Wilkens of New Albany.
She his preceded in death by her parents, her Great Aunt and Uncle and her two brothers Henry Dowell, Jr and James Dowell.
Surviving Phyllis are her ex-husband Paul Thacker. Along with her four children, Lisa Smith (Mike) of New Salisbury; Laura Brister (George Crone) of Salem; Leslie Walker (Jeff Davison) of Alexandria, KY; and Larry Thacker (Shelly) of Greenville.
She has four grandchildren Bryan Thacker (Carrie) of Bedford; Christopher Brister (Rosemary) of Corydon; Alex Walker (Katie) of Fort Thomas, KY; and Mistie Borders (Deven) of Jeffersonville. Her Great Grandchildren are Josiah Thacker; Christian, Skylar and Sofia Brister; Vincent Walker; and Taylor Smith. She also has many nieces and nephews along with great-nieces and nephews. Additionally, Laura Harl of Marengo was a friend and longtime loving and devoted caregiver to Phyllis, an indispensable member of the family.
She attended school at State Street Elementary and graduated from New Albany High school in 1955. She was as a member of Centenary Methodist where she received an award for 10 years of perfect attendance and Trinity United Methodist Church in New Albany. She attended College Avenue United Methodist Church in Muncie, IN while in school at Ball State University.
Phyllis worked as a Clinical Nurse, a Nurse Educator, Administrator, and a School Nurse for more than 40 years. As a trailblazer, she attained a Bachelor of Science degree as a Registered Nurse from Ball State University and Ball Memorial Hospital in 1959. She loved children and babies. Upon her return to New Albany, she initially worked as an OB-GYN nurse at the “new” Floyd Memorial Hospital. In 1960, with a goal of staffing the local hospital, she was asked by local physicians to establish The New Albany School of License Practical Nursing. The school was originally located in a house on Jay Street in New Albany. There were four students in the first graduating class. The program later became part of the NAFC School System. The program was relocated to Prosser Vocational School in 1969. At Prosser she also established a Health Occupations class for high school Seniors. She served as a school nurse and worked to insure all school aged children in Floyd Country were vaccinated against measles. The one day clinic was held at Floyd Central High school.
After obtaining a master’s degree in Education the entire nursing program was moved from Prosser to Ivy Tech in Sellersburg. She served on the committee to write state-wide curriculum for nursing education, including the program at IUS.
Upon her departure from Ivy Tech, she returned to the field of clinical nursing, working as the Director of Nursing at several long-term skilled care facilities in New Albany and Clarksville. She later returned to work at Floyd County Hospital, retiring in 2003. Even then, her love of nursing called her to continue to work as a volunteer at the hospital.
Throughout her life, Phyllis was active in Altrusa Club of New Albany and served on different Harvest Homecoming Committees. She was a troop leader at Mt. Tabor School for Girls Scouts of America and served on the PTA. She was active with Job’s Daughters Bethel #42 in New Albany. She loved all kinds of different music, passing that love onto her children. She also loved to bake, over the years winning many awards at the Harvest Homecoming Baking Content, including in 1990 when she was awarded Grand Champion for a recipe of Pumpkin Cheesecake. Phyllis was also a Kentucky Colonel. She loved to camp, read, craft and she loved to travel, especially when she was able to take her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to the beach.
Visitation for Phyllis will be held from 3-8PM on Wednesday and 9-11AM on Thursday at The Market Street Chapel of Neville and Seabrook Funeral in New Albany. The funeral will be held at the funeral home on Thursday at 11AM. She will be entombed at Kraft-Graceland Memorial Park in New Albany.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the nursing scholarship program at Indiana University Southeast.
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