Phyllis was born in Seattle on December 27th, 1925 and passed away March 28th, 2022 on Bainbridge Island surrounded by her loving family. She was born Phyllis Lee Brownell, the daughter of Francis Brownell and Phyllis Brownell. She spent her summers on Bainbridge Island at the Country Club on Restoration Point and her winters in the Highlands of Seattle. She attended St. Nicholas High School on Capitol Hill then graduated from The Madeira School in Virginia in 1943. She attended the University of Washington where she studied Nursing until the end of WWII. She then attended Bennington College in Vermont where she graduated with a BA in art in 1948.
She met her husband Richard Crooks Jr. while ski touring around Mt. Baker. They married in July of 1949. They went on a canoe trip for their honeymoon to Shi-Shi beach during which Phyllis almost was drowned twice. Things got better. They moved to Bainbridge Island in 1951 and there she raised five kids and untold numbers of dogs and horses. For recreation Phyllis, and neighbor housewife Jean Goodfellow, became crack shooters at the Bainbridge Island Rifle Club, earning iron sight marksman awards and winning many riflery contests against tough competition.
She loved to ski and had done so with her parents on Mt Rainier. Hike up, ski down. She and Richard continued skiing at Stevens pass, with children in tow, and later at Crystal Mountain. Winters were in the mountains, summers were spent hiking in the Olympics and camping at Shi Shi beach. The rest was horses horses horses. She rode as a member of the Bainbridge Island Saddle Club (Western) in the early 50’s and then she started the Bainbridge Island Pony Club (English). She had trails blazed for riding from the south end of the Island to current day Ace Hardware on Highway 305 (then the riding arena) and could often be seen with a troupe of kids and horses caravaning to horse shows. In the late 1960’s her interest in riding led her to purchase eight acres in Kirkland, Washington where she founded the Evergreen Equestrian Center adjacent to Bridle Trails Park. For 24 years Phyllis built and managed a riding school for dressage, and hunter/jumper students and mentored countless young riders in the equestrian arts and in life. She juggled all the trainers, barn workers, barn cats, barn dogs, horses, and her kids in fine order.
In 1995 she and Richard Crooks moved back to Bainbridge Island. In her new house, barn attached, on Baker Hill, she grew a substantial garden, made trails still used by visitors of Gazzam Lake Park, and eased many an old horse into the afterlife fat and happy. Phyllis was preceded in death by her husband Richard (Dick) Crooks and her brother Frank H. Brownell. She is survived by her sister Betty Weinstock, daughters Phyllis Lee Crooks (Jim Behrend), Carolyn Pine Crooks and sons Alex (Evie), Jon (Stacie), and Mike (Jennifer), many grandchildren and great grandchildren. She is remembered as a loving, patient, independent woman with a strong will, a practical wisdom, and a deep love and respect for animals. She donated to numerous non-profits related to humanitarian and environmental causes. She was loved by all she touched with her gift for horsemanship and teaching. Her gardens flourished under her watchful care as did those who were blessed with her presence.