Gardnerville Elementary School kindergarten teacher dies

Phyllis Robison, a mother of two, wife and beloved kindergarten teacher, died Wednesday following a three-year battle with cancer.

"She was the best mom and she was a strong fighter," said daughter Julie Robison, 20. "She fought until the end. It wasn't until we said it's OK to go that she did - I think she was just scared to leave us alone."

News of the 48-year-old Gardnerville Elementary School teacher's death spread quickly through the Douglas County School District.

"Everyone is just heartbroken," said Minden Elementary School Principal Klaire Pirtle, who served as Robison's principal from 1982 to 1986. "We are so sad. She was such a wonderful person who always had a positive word and she laughed easily."

Robison began working as a teacher in 1975 and started teaching kindergarten at Gardnerville Elementary School in 1979 where she stayed until last year, when she took a leave of absence to undergo chemotherapy.

Pirtle said Robison was the kind of teacher all kindergartners would like to have.

"She brought those students in and she taught them and she loved them. She got them off to a wonderful start," Pirtle said. "She was a gift to those students and to their parents."

Pirtle's daughter Amber, 21, had Robison as a teacher.

"I remember that she was really beautiful and this long blond hair," Amber said. "I remember feeling so smart in her classroom. My memories are just of a 5-year-old who loved her teacher."

Robison was married to William "Robbie" Robison, principal of Kingsbury Middle School and they have two daughters, Julie and Rachel, 15.

Despite being diagnosed with cancer in 1998, her mother planned to keep teaching, even after her father retired, Julie said.

"She had a really positive attitude and she really thought she was going to beat it," Julie said. "In a way, she did."

Robison was told in October that she wouldn't live but, for her, that wasn't an option. She chose to undergo torturous chemotherapy - 24 hours a day for five days.

On July 19, she had surgery to remove part of her lungs and was recovering well on the 20th and 21st. But on July 22, she suffered two heart attacks and was placed on full-body life support.

Doctors did not expect her to recover but five days later, she was taken off life support, but died 27 days later.

"She was a miracle," Julie said. "She wowed the doctors right up to the end."

She wowed friends and colleagues in life.

"She was a delightful lady. She didn't do anything that she didn't do it well," said her pastor Pete Nelson. "She devoted her life to teaching and to her family and to her Lord. She touched literally thousands of family's lives."

A memorial service for Robison will be held at 4 p.m. Monday in the Carson Valley United Methodist Church. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a scholarship fund in her memory at Wells Fargo Bank.


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