Phyllis Arlene Ernst, age 89, of Hilliard, Ohio passed away peacefully on Thursday, November 30, 2023. Phyllis was born in Fullerton, Kentucky to the late Alan and Mary Lamblin.
Phyllis was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. She brought light and laughter to the lives of so many, with faith, family, and friends as the guiding forces in her life. Her spirit for life, boundless energy, beautiful smile, and beauty were hallmarks of her outgoing personality. She reveled in bringing joy to people and being of service. She is dearly loved and will be deeply missed.
Phyllis is preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Will Ernst, a former coach, teacher, Assistant Principal, and Athletic Director in the Hilliard School system. The two met at Withrow High School in Cincinnati, married, and started their family there. In the late sixties and early seventies, they lived in various cities in Spain while Will trained and coached basketball. Returning to Ohio in 1973, they settled in Hilliard and spent the remainder of their lives dedicated to improving the rapidly expanding community.
With the support of City Mayor Roger Reynolds, Phyllis organized the first recreation activities for the city in the late seventies. Over the next 26 years, as Director of Parks and Recreation, she built a thriving multi-faceted department. Its mission was to provide healthy, leisure activities for residents. She accomplished this by adding parks; wooded areas; an aquatic facility; soccer and baseball fields; a fishing lake; and the first Senior Center. In the late nineties, the facility was renamed in her honor and in recognition of her leadership and vision for Hilliard.
Supporting senior citizens was one of her passions and led her to establish the Hilliard Happiness Choir, a volunteer group she produced, choreographed, and directed for years. She loved music, singing, costume design, and dancing. All of which were on display in her many productions and events. She loved to perform and never shied away from a microphone or bull horn!
Phyllis served on numerous boards, councils, and committees during her years with the city, earning her a variety of honors.
In 2009 Will and Phyllis were named to the Hilliard Senior Citizen Center Hall of Fame, and in 2011 she was honored to be named a Hometown Hero.
Raised in the United Methodist Church, Phyllis was a devoted church goer, former member of the Hilliard United Methodist Church, and in later years attended the Urbana United Methodist Church.
Phyllis is survived by her brother, Dan (Tracy) Lamblin, sister-in-law Lorraine (Jim) Wilson, daughter, Sandi (Jon Perez) Ernst, daughter Staci (Tim) Weller, son Moses (Heather) Ernst, and her grandchildren Nicolas Perez, Justin (Bret Skeel) Weller, Lauren (Ed) Patlan, Riley Ernst, Jared Weller, and Tommy Ernst.
In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to consider donating to the GrandWorks Foundation, a favorite non-profit charity Phyllis supported in a variety of ways. The GrandWorks Foundation manages the Urbana Youth Center (an after-school program that serves more than 700 underserved youth) and the historic Gloria Theatre. You can donate online at GloriaTheatre.org or send checks to the GrandWorks Foundation, 216 S. Main Street, Urbana, Ohio 43078. You can indicate the project you would like it to be allocated to or it will be utilized where it is needed most.