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Phyllis Leritz 1926 – 2024

Phyllis Jean (Jackson) Leritz was born in Minneapolis on October 30, 1926 to Agnes and George Jackson. She was the second-oldest of eight children. Phyllis was raised in the Motley, Minnesota area and graduated from Motley High School in 1943. After high school, she studied at St. Cloud College to earn her teaching license. She then moved to rural Menahga and taught first through eighth grades at the one room school house in Midway. Phyllis taught for two years before getting married to Joe Leritz and starting a family in Butte, Montana.
After leaving Montana, Phyllis and Joe farmed in rural Brainerd and added six more children to the family. In 1961, the family moved to the family farm near Midway. Phyllis was kept busy with farm and housework, raising seven children, gardening, baking and sewing. She still found time to read when ever she could.
Phyllis worked for Ringers in Park Rapids for two years prior to being hired as a Teacher’s Aid at Menahga Elementary in 1967. She held this position until she became the high school Principal’s secretary and stayed in that position until her retirement in 1998.
Phyllis and Joe moved from the farm to Menahga in 1977 where Phyllis lived until her death. She loved her gardens and her neighbors. She was an active member of First English Lutheran Church, being part of a Woman’s Circle and the First English Quilting group. Phyllis continued quilting from home when she was no longer able to drive. During Covid, Phyllis sewed hundreds of masks for anyone who needed them.
Phyllis’s love of gardening extended to her involvement with the Menahga Area Gardeners. Each year, she took part in their annual plant sale and was on the program and yearbook committee.
Phyllis took two trips to Europe with her best friend, Margie, from high school. She also enjoyed traveling with her family throughout the United States.
Phyllis’s friendships were as varied as her gardens. She made friends with all ages. For many years, she was an active member of the Garden Web, an online group of people who shared her interest in gardening from across the USA. She kept active in her retirement. She loved gardening, garage sales, sewing and reading. She always had baked goods just in case family or friends would show up.
Phyllis loved her large extended family. Phyllis was a loving mother to her seven children and their spouses. She loved her 13 grandchildren and their spouses as well as her 23 great-grandchildren and they loved her.
Phyllis loved the Menahga Midsummer Celebration. The parade route went right by her house. Four generations of family enjoyed an annual picnic prior to parade watching. Then, the family and old neighbors would gather on the boulevard to enjoy the parade and catch candy.
Phyllis is survived by her sister Ellen Held; children: Linda (Greg) Giese, Phil (Donna) Leritz, Diane (Dave) Sauer, Glenda Petry, and Deb (Dan) Michels, son-in-law Jay O’Sullivan; 13 grandchildren and their spouses: Mike Sauer, Jeff Sauer, Tony Hawkins, Dan Leritz, Jonathon Giese, Adam Michels, Brianna Malm, Kristen Schnackenberg, Jessalyn Johnson, Jennie Hunt, James Petry, Katie Reierson and Anna Petry Knutson, and 23 great-grandchildren.
Phyllis is preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Joe Leritz, daughters Gail Hawkins and Val O’Sullivan, son-in-law, Chuck Hawkins, great-granddaughter, Eliana Leritz, brothers: Phillip, Steve and Stan Jackson, sisters: Pat Trickle, Cynthia Lucke and Gail Jackson.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date.
Arrangements are entrusted to Wevley Funeral Home of Sebeka. Online condolences may be left at

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