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Phyllis Jean (Block) Gehl, age 75, of Grand Rapids passed away unexpectedly after a few years of declining health on October 29, 2020. Phyllis lived her life dedicated to her family and friends and left this world peacefully at home surrounded by her family.

She is survived by her husband, Richard, with whom she celebrated 53 years of marriage on October 28; siblings, Donald Block (Joy) of Pinckney and Suellen Lowther (Donald) of Grand Haven; daughters, Jennifer Gehl (Matthew Schroeder) of East Grand Rapids, Jessica Gehl of San Diego, Joanna Waite (Chris) of Grand Rapids; son, Justin Gehl of San Francisco; grandchildren, Madeline & Oscar Schroeder, Maya & Kai Gehl, and Spencer, Breslin & Sydney Waite; aunt, Eva Steiner of Fargo, ND; uncle’s, Seymour Harkema of Grand Rapids and Kenny Block of Northwood, IA; and numerous cousins, nieces, & nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Merrill & Ruth Block; parents-in-law, Howard (Boots) & Marian Gehl; sister-in-law, Cindy Block; and brother-in-law, Wesley Gehl.

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she graduated from Ottawa Hills High School, Grand Rapids Junior College and Michigan State University where she received an undergraduate degree in Home Economics and Master’s Degree in Education. Phyllis had an extensive career in community education guiding and mentoring students to success through an untraditional high school experience. In addition to teaching, she enjoyed working in sales having been employed by Jacobson’s Department Store and David’s Bridal. Phyllis had a passion for gourmet cooking and loved entertaining through organizing and hosting dinners for family and friends. She was an accomplished seamstress and loved traveling with and to visit family. She was a life long active member at Trinity Lutheran Church. She is profoundly missed by all who knew her.

Honoring her wishes, cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be held at Trinity at a later date when travel is safe. The family encourages memorial contributions be made to Trinity Lutheran Church, 2700 Fulton St. E Grand Rapids, MI 49506.

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Phyllis’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:

Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids, 616-452-3006.


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5 Condolences

  1. Carrie McCloskey on November 10, 2020 at 11:41 am

    So very sorry for your loss, Joanna and family. You are in our prayers.

  2. Elaine Salisbury on November 12, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    I feel blessed to have known and worked with Phyllis. She was a good teacher for those who needed an alternative approach and motivation for learning. She was also a kind and caring friend to her colleagues. My condolences to her family.

  3. Bill Schaefer on November 13, 2020 at 11:55 am

    A corner stone at Trinity, her work as a Luther Leaguer and in the Girls Choir, being at Ottawa Hills and the fun we all had on those Luther League trips to the camp at Gun Lake. She will always live on at Trinity and those that remember her smiles and great personality. We will miss her, God with you all during this time

    Bill Schaefer
    Belmont, MI

  4. Molly Seekamp on November 15, 2020 at 9:02 am

    Justin, I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

  5. Bev & Ken Block on November 18, 2020 at 9:46 am

    Just in case anyone forgot what she looked like, here is a facsimile. (Sorry, no photo; can’t figure out how to do it here!)

    Anyway, it was a joy celebrating Richard and Phyllis’ last anniversary together!

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