Erma Jean Besendorfer Phillips, 89, of Springville, passed away unexpectedly in Provo, Utah on June 3, 2020. Erma Jean was born on December 31, 1930, in Charleston, Utah, to Noah & Nancy Ann Casper Besendorfer. She grew up in Charleston and graduated with honors from Wasatch High School and from Brigham Young University with a major in Elementary Education. She was one of the first sister missionaries to be called to New Zealand and served for 26 months. While serving, she met the love of her life, her eternal companion, Ronald Joseph Phillips. They were married on December 6, 1956, in the Salt Lake Temple and celebrated 54 years together before Ronald passed away in 2011.
Erma Jean always enjoyed sports. She earned letters in basketball, volleyball, track and tennis in high school. She held the Utah record for the longest girls’ high school softball throw. She was also offered a job as a professional softball player for the Salt Lake City Shamrocks and won tennis & badminton singles championships at BYU. She enjoyed going fishing, hunting and camping with Ronald and their family and loved spending time with her family and friends at the beautiful cabin that Ronald built overlooking Soldier Creek Reservoir at Strawberry.
Erma Jean was a wonderful teacher and began her teaching career at Midway Elementary & Provost Elementary, and later returned to teach 2nd grade at Mapleton Elementary in 1983 until she retired. Erma Jean was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in many capacities such as Relief Society President, YW President, and as a Gospel Doctrine teacher for well over 20 years. She also served with Ronald for many years as an ordinance worker at the Provo Temple and as a missionary guide at the Provo Tabernacle. Her family was her highest priority and she loved spending time with her two daughters and son-in-law, four beloved grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. She also loved her association with so many kind neighbors & friends and enjoyed traveling around the world with former missionary companions, family & friends. She enjoyed many years of membership with the Utah Daughters of the Pioneers.
Erma Jean is survived by her daughters Jeanna (Steven) Ross and Jaclyn Phillips; four grandchildren: Philip (Lacey) Ross, Lauryn (Dallin) Koski, Ryker Ross and Jackson Ross, as well as five great-grandchildren: Gabe, Rubi, Finn, Aldon & Sloane; brother Moroni Besendorfer, sister Joann Burnson, brother John Besendorfer, and brother-in-law Kent (Susan) Phillips. She was preceded in death by her sisters Helen LaVern Cardell and Waldie Clegg, & many loving brothers- and sisters-in-law.
A viewing will be held Friday, June 5, 2020 from 6:00-8:00 pm at Wheeler Mortuary, 211 East 200 South in Springville. A graveside service will be held Saturday, June 6, at 11:30am at the Charleston Cemetery, Wasatch County.