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Phyllis Smith Christiansen

June 9, 1927 February 11, 2018
Phyllis Smith Christiansen
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Obituary for Phyllis Smith Christiansen

Phyllis Smith Christiansen, 90, died on February 11, 2018, at the Mayflower Community Health Care Center in Grinnell.

At her request, there will be no service.

The daughter of Philip and Lillian Cassat Smith, she was born June 9, 1927, in Evanston, Illinois. She attended high school in Evanston and in Cambridge, Massachusetts and received a B.S. degree from Simmons College in Boston in 1948. She was married to Kenneth Allen Christiansen on June 7, 1947, in Cambridge. The couple lived in Massachusetts and in Lebanon before moving to Grinnell in 1955.

Phyllis was a homemaker, an active faculty wife in those olden days, mother of four and volunteer. In the 1970s and 1980s she participated in the recurring struggle to improve mental health services in Iowa’s communities, serving on several state mental health boards, including the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Commission. She was particularly concerned with services in Iowa’s then seventy county care facilities and with the development of service in the community for the chronically mentally ill.

In 1981 and 1982, she served on the Governor’s Commission on Health Care Costs, one of Governor Ray’s early efforts to confront and contain the increase in those costs.

Phyllis especially enjoyed travel experiences and times with family, always her primary interest.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Kenneth; and her sister, Joanne Smith. She is survived by her son, Eric Christiansen of Portland, Oregon; her daughters and sons-in-law, Karen and Kirk Worrall of Parkdale, Oregon, Paula Christiansen and Jose Gonzalez of Chicago and Diane and Stephen Dawson of Chicago; five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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