Phyllis Starr Schmitz

Obituary of Phyllis J. Starr Schmitz

Phyllis J. Starr Schmitz, age 87, beloved wife, mother, aunt, sister, grandmother, and great grandmother, passed away quietly and peacefully in her sleep Friday, May 27, 2022, at her lake home in Elk River, Minnesota.    


She is survived by her loving husband, Gary, with whom she recently celebrated 50 years of happiness and love. Together they have enjoyed a wonderful life of countless family times, extensive travels, learning and growing together, enjoying their homes in Minnesota and Florida, and welcoming all who came into their life.


She is also survived by their eleven (11) children, thirty (30) grandchildren, and thirty (30) great grandchildren. As a loving couple, they combined their families, embracing her nine children, with his two children, to create what continues today to be a large, beautiful, and growing family.


Their surviving children include Deborah Starr Donnelly (Michael), Jeannine Starr (Gregory DeFor), John Starr (Cindy), Mary Lea Starr, Laura Schmitz (Robert Shapiro), Anthony Starr, Stephanie Starr Manley (Terrence Manley), Cynthia Starr (Harry Miller), Steven Schmitz, Lisa Starr, and Jennifer Starr.


Phyllis had an amazing love for children, always welcomed more children to the table, more to join in the fun, more to laugh and play with every day. Her very blessed grandchildren who loved her laughter, her dancing, her spirit, and her unwavering joy for life include: Ryan Donnelly, Kevin Donnelly, Bridget Donnelly, Anna Donnelly, Matthew Hill, Anthony Hill, Jay DeFor, Casey DeFor, Riley DeFor, Jason Starr, Brandon Starr, Danielle Starr, Molly Kurtz, Melissa Kuhl, Nicholas Kuhl, Michael O’Keefe, Anna O’Keefe, Sarah Shapiro, Emma Shapiro, Brittany Starr, Maria Starr, Michaela Starr, Joshua Manley, Timothy Manley, Patrick Manley, Claudia Miller, Jacob Hunt, Olivia Hunt, Maia Killip, and Zachary Killip. 


Phyllis, born Phyllis J. Henderson, December 30, 1934, in St. Paul, Minnesota, is also survived by her brother, Curtis Henderson, and his wife Mary, of Forest Lake, and several nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her parents, Ethyl and Leonard Henderson, and siblings, Gregory Henderson, Claudia Henderson, Douglas Henderson, and Meredith Henderson (Triviski).


“Mrs. Starr,” as she was called for many years, was well known as a mom who would welcome all children in her home. She was smart, funny, brave, determined, compassionate, supportive, creative, curious, and just a whole lot of fun. She taught us all to dance, to sing, and to run straight ahead and embrace life. She will be missed greatly. She is missed already. The last weeks of her life were beautiful as she was surrounded by so many who loved her, cared for her, and still can’t imagine this world without her. May God watch over her and hold her in his hands.


Please join us as we celebrate her life on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, 4:00 - 8:00 p.m., at Willwerscheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, and on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, for visitation at 9:30 a.m. and services at 10:30 a.m. at St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church,

100 Oxford Street North, St. Paul.  Reception at church following service.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Phyllis Starr Schmitz, please visit Tribute Store


4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Willwerscheid Funeral Home
1167 Grand Ave.
St. Paul, Minnesota, United States
(651) 228-1006

Memorial Service

10:30 am - 11:30 am
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church
100 Oxford Street North
St. Paul, Minnesota, United States
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