Phyllis Baker Kaiser


Phyllis Baker Kaiser was born on September 5, 1925, in Hollywood, Calif. She passed away on February 28, 2009, at the age of 83 at The Court in Reno, Nevada.

Notes from Phyllis Kaiser memorial celebration

Her sister, Betty, was sent to "go get her" from Baltimore and bring her back to Nevada after Phyllis graduated from Johns Hopkins.

Thank God for all of us that she got her.

Her dad's full name was Charles Duncan Baker.

Her son, Phil, told the story of the time his mom lost her wedding ring. Phyllis didn't know where she had misplaced it, which took Phil aback, as a wedding ring is a pretty important item.

When it turned up during a housecleaning, Phil noticed that all the diamonds were missing.

His mother explained that she had sold the diamonds to help someone in need.

Longtime Nevada journalist Dennis Myers
told the story of the time in the 1970's when he interviewed Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nev., on an edition of KTVN TV-2's Face the State.

Noting the killing of the MX missile and Nevada's burgeoning opposition to the high-level nuclear waste dump, Laxalt wondered if the state was going "peacenik."

In excerpting the story for the evening news, Myers needed a counterpoint and Phyllis came to mind.

When Myers asked about Nevada becoming peacenik, she replied "sounds good to me."

Myers asserted that Phyllis' travels to Vietnam in 1991 (with her adopted Vietnamese son) and to Central America during the Reagan Iran-Contra Years (where she once came under fire on a trip to deliver relief supplies), constituted her attempt to make up for America's sins against the people of those countries.


She was a resident of Reno and Sparks for the past 55 years.

Phyllis graduated from Las Vegas High School at the age of 15. She graduated from
Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, with and Associate in Arts Degree in 1943.

She became a nurse cadet and graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in 1946. She then graduated from the University of Nevada-Reno with a B.A. Degree in Social Services and Corrections in 1978.

Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents, C.D. Baker and Pearl Baker as well as her husband, Dr. John J. Kaiser.

She was also preceded in death by her sons, Michael D. Kaiser, John J. Kaiser II and Kha N. Ung.

Surviving are her sister, Betty Bandy and nephew, Jim Brandy of Coronado, CA. Also surviving are sons, Phillip J. Kaiser (Susan Meyer) and Gia N. Ung (Van) both of Reno and daughter, Joni Kaiser (Tom Lake) of Sparks, Janell Moss (Denzel) of Boise, ID and Dawn Joan Kaiser (Sam Hundley) of Cheyenne, WY. Surviving grandchildren include Rachel, Stefan, Nathan, Michael Daniel, Karla, Terry, Greg, Sheri and Randy.

Phyllis worked as an R.N. first in Baltimore with the Public Health Service, then at Washoe Medical Center and the Veteran‘s Administration Hospital in Reno. She then worked for two years at Headstart at St. Thomas Aquinas Church.

Phyllis worked for two years with the Cyesis Program for pregnant teenagers at the YWCA. For eight years, Phyllis served as the director of Community Welfare, a nonprofit agency that provided food, lodging and fuel to those in need.

From 1975-1985 Phyllis served as Nevada State Director of Refugee Resettlement for Church World Service. In her retirement, she wrote voluminous poems and was a member of the National Association of American Pen Women.

Phyllis was a church organist for 43 years and a piano teacher for 25 years. She was the organist for Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) graduations for 14 years. Phyllis was a member of Reno Friends Meeting, Sparks United Methodist Church, and South Reno Methodist Church.

Phyllis volunteered with the Friends of the UNR Library, Rebound, American Friends Service Committee, Friends of Washoe County Library, Physician's Spouses (Doctor‘s Wives) of Northern Nevada, Sierra Club, Kiwanis Club, American Association of University Women, the Democratic Party, Daughters of the American Revolution, Committee to Aid Abused Women, Reno Housing Authority, Veteran‘s Memorial School, Habitat for Humanity, Women of Nevada, Anne Martin Women‘s Political Caucus, CROP walk, American Nurses Association and the Nature Conservancy.

She taught English as a Second Language classes at TMCC. She served on Washoe County‘s Social Services Board for eight years and on the Washoe County Health Department's Family Planning Board for 10 years.

She received the following honors:

  • 1984 — CAAW‘s Hannah Humanitarian Award
  • 1985 — Sertoma District Award for Service to Mankind
  • 1985 — City of Sparks Commendation For Improving Human Services
  • 1986 — Reno Optimist Club Service Club Person of the Year
  • 1990 — Distinguished Nevadan, University of Nevada
  • 1991 — The National Conference of Christians and Jews Humanitarian Award

Please join us as we honor the life and good works of Phyllis Baker Kaiser who said, "To be part of people‘s lives is a great gift."

Her memorial service will be held on Sunday, March 8, 2009 at 2 p.m. at the Sparks United Methodist Church at the corner of Oddie Blvd. and Pyramid Way.

The family would like to thank the terrific employees at The Court at Reno and Vista Care for caring for Phyllis in such a fine manner.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to CAAW at 1735 Vassar St., Reno, NV, 89502, or to McQueen High School with a note for the New Horizons Scholarship; attention: Mrs. Finney, 6055 Lancer St., Reno, NV 89523; or to the Music Fund at Sparks Methodist Church or to any charity of your choice.

Guest Book for Phyllis
Send comments to Andrew Barbano
They will remain permanently posted here.

March 19, 2009

Phyllis touched my life in so many ways - "extra mom", piano teacher, friend, and most important, example. I have thought of her often throughout my adulthood and can only hope that I am half the person she was. Thank you for sharing your mom with me.
Diane McCollum (Gibson) (Las Vegas, NV)

March 10, 2009

Phyllis Kaiser was a very loyal and compassionate woman who was committed to human service. It was my honor and priviledge to have known her. She was a true role model.
Kate O'Donnell (Reno, NV)

March 5, 2009

Mrs.Kaiser helped many Vietnamese families settled down in this area when they first set foot in in America. We deeply appreciate what she had done for us. She was a great friend and supporter of our Vietnamese community here. Our heartfelt condolences are with amazing woman's family. Mrs.Kaiser's warm personality, kindness and compassion are with us forever. I think all of the Vietnamese who heard this news will be at her funeral service this Sunday.

Thaison Dao (Sparks, NV)

March 3, 2009

Mrs. Kaiser was my piano teacher. She taught me to read music and love all types of music from folk to classical.

A special treat I will never forget was when she took me to the church were she played the organ for a wedding. As a little girl it was my first exposure to a formal wedding. Sitting with Mrs. Kaiser in the organ area I dream't of the day she could play for my wedding.

The years came and went. I would see her now and then. She always seemed happy to see me and I was happy to see her.

A strong women who was kind, gentle, and loving. A real role model. A real Saint.

With love in my heart for this wonderful women. Mrs. Kaiser will truly be missed and will not be forgotten.

Danelle Moser (Sparks, NV)

March 3, 2009

Phillip, What little I knew of your mom during my youth, I will never forget. She was always the nicest and warm person. Truly full of grace.

May her countless acts of kindness carry her soul to the places we only dream of.

Ron Kozloski (Ripon, CA)

March 3, 2009

Phyllis Baker Kaiser, you added amazing depth to my life. You will always rest in my heart. We shared so much FUN together at the Court at Reno. I love you. I will always remember you. I appreciate all of your family and I am sending all my good will to you all as well. Thank-you.

Jennifer Kopplin (Sparks, NV)

March 3, 2009

My heartfelt condolences to the whole family of this remarkable woman. I knew her through her activities with several of the groups mentioned. She was one of the truly great people of Nevada.

Margaret Rockenbeck (Redmond, WA)

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