Phyllis Jeanette Brewer was the eldest child born to the late Lavena Fields. Phyllis was born on April 3, 1940 in Kansas City, Missouri. Lavena met and married the late George H. Fields and the family moved to Detroit, Michigan.
Phyllis began her early childhood education in the Detroit Public School System. She was a member of the National Baton Twirling Association. She competed in baton twirling competitions at the annual Michigan State Fair where she won many trophies and scored numerous medals. She participated in several parades throughout Michigan. She loved telling the story of hearing a little white boy in the crowd saying “Mom, look at the chocolate girl.” She enjoyed her childhood in Detroit especially going skating, bicycling and attending parties. She remembered fondly the picnics she had with her mother, sister Tony and later, with her brother Vincent at Belle Isle.
In 1957, Phyllis relocated to Kansas City, Kansas to live with her maternal Aunt Hiltha Jean and Uncle Delmas Haines. She graduated from Sumner High School in 1959. At Sumner, she was a drum majorette. She was very talented and could twirl a fire baton. It was here where Phyllis met her high school sweetheart, Elbert “Alverns” Martin. She also met her lifelong best friend of 62 years, Annie McKelvy.
In 1958, Phyllis joined and was baptized at Eight Street Baptist Church. She joined Pleasant Green Baptist Church in 1964. She was a faithful member, serving as a Sunday School Teacher, until she left and joined Mount Zion Baptist Church in March 1990. Here at Mount Zion, Phyllis, was a faithful member of Sunday School Class #6. Yearly, she worked Vacation Bible School. She served as the Treasurer in the Mission Department. She participated in all Women’s Day events. She enjoyed the annual church vacations. Phyllis loved making bulletin boards and posting them throughout the church. She loved the church and continued to be an active member until her health began to falter.
On August 13, 1960, Phyllis married Alverns Martin. To this union, Darryl Wayne Martin was born. This marriage was dissolved in February 1964.
On April 4, 1964, Phyllis married the love of her life, Arthur Andrew Brewer. To this union, Cynthia Lynn Brewer was born. They were happily married for 41 years until Arthur’s passing on March 8, 2005.
Phyllis retired from International Harvester, later known as J.I. Case, after working 31 years, on March 1, 1994. She was the first black woman hired to work in the office. She told the story of how the managers had a meeting with the office staff, the day before she began her employment, to prepare them for her arrival. A white co-worker was assigned to go to break and lunch with her. She held several positions in the company before retiring as a dispatcher. Following retirement, Phyllis worked for several years at Kiddie College. Phyllis was an Avon representative for 36 years, right up until her passing.
Throughout her life, Phyllis enjoyed many activities. She loved bowling. She bowled in bowling leagues throughout the city for over 40 years. She was a Brownie leader. She taught baton twirling. She loved to help the elderly and shut-ins, running errands and spending time with them before her eye sight diminished. She was a godmother to many neighborhood children on 21st street. Her greatest passion were her friendships. She valued her friendships and put in the work to keep them. Phyllis developed some wonderful lifelong friendships throughout her life. She never met a person that she didn’t like.
She was a member of the “Girlfriends.” The “Girlfriends” are a group of ladies that met each other at Eight Street Baptist Church. The group began with nine members. Sadly, four members preceded her in death. Laleta Jones, Dorothy Posey, Harlene Doyle and Sadie Cole must now carry on without her.
Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents, her loving husband Arthur, her devoted grandson, Alverns Martin; her step-daughter, Norma Brewer; her brother, Paul Hill; a special aunt, Hiltha Jean Haines and some wonderful friends, most recently Hesteen Rosenthall.
Phyllis leaves to cherish her memory two children, Darryl Martin, Kansas City, Kansas and Cynthia Bruce (Wilford), Kansas City, Missouri; four step-children, Arthur Brewer, Jr; Carolyn Brewer; Pamela Brewer; all of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Bonnie Boyle (Fred), Ocala, Florida; two sisters, AnnTonya Broussard, Augusta, Georgia and Pamela Goggins, Aurora, Colorado; five brothers, Vincent Fields (Hortense) and Ahndrri Fields both of Detroit, Michigan; James Hill. Jr., Inglewood, California; Dennis Hill, Kansas City, Kansas and Milton Hill, Oakland, California; one granddaughter, Shatoja Staten (Derrick), Mableton, Georgia; one aunt, Zenobia Hardy, Roseville, Michigan; a play daughter, Jacqueline Green, Kansas City, Kansas and a host of step-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.