By Meghan McLaughlin
Phyllis Schoolcraft might just be one of Kenmore’s oldest residents. She turned 101 years old on Sept. 24.
Phyllis grew up in Seattle and attended Concord Elementary in the Georgetown neighborhood. Her mother and father were separated, so she was left with much of the housework and cooking at an early age.
“It wasn’t like now where you go out and have a good time,” Phyllis said with a laugh.
As a teenager, her favorite pastime was roller skating with her sister and friends.
Phyllis married her husband Pete in 1941 and in 1953 moved from Skyway to Kenmore to build their home. Pete, who has since passed away, wanted to “move out to the woods” so he could have a nursery of rhododendrons, azaleas and more. They had rabbits and pigs on the property as well.
When the family moved to Kenmore, there were only two houses on their road.
“I had lived in the city,” Phyllis said, “and now I was stuck in the woods!”
She said it took her almost a year to get acclimated to Kenmore. She now says she’s glad she raised her family here.
The house has since been remodeled, but it still sits on its original cedar beams cut from the trees in the area. Phyllis’s husband built a pond in the backyard of the house around 1960 that was the talk of the neighborhood. He stocked it with fish back then, but ducks are the main inhabitants of the pond now.
Phyllis marveled at all the changes since moving to the area, especially the freeways and large houses built close together.
“They’re so close,” she said, “you could reach out and ask your neighbor for a cup of coffee.”
Phyllis worked at the Wigwam for 26 years, a department store that sold everything from clothing to household items and then some. Phyllis handled customers who stole lipstick from the counter and those trying to return dirty shoes.
She recalled other old businesses she frequented like the IGA grocery store, The Keg, the Kenmore Drive-In, Porterhouse Inn and the bowling alley.
Phyllis said the key to living so long is spending time with family. She and her husband had four sons–Ed, Dick (who passed away in 2016), Ron and Ken. She has seven grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Her entire family lives in Washington state.