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Phyllis Kerr Yowell

Literature professor, loving wife, world traveler

Phyllis Kerr Yowell, a longtime resident of Claremont Manor, died peacefully on May 31, 2014 in the kind and skillful care of the Manor staff. She was 97.

She was born on February 25, 1917 to William and Ethel Kerr in Boston, Massachusetts. The family soon moved to Seattle, Washington where she spent her formative years.  

Mrs. Yowell attended Stanford University where she received a PhD in English literature. She soon joined the English department at the university as one of Stanford’s first female professors, specializing in Victorian literature, particularly the techniques of characterization in the novels of Charles Dickens.

While teaching literature at the University of Washington, Phyllis met Robert Yowell, a dashing naval aviator from Missouri. The couple was married June 9, 1942 in Santa Barbara. The pair began their lifelong journey together, traveling the world, reading, writing, teaching and enjoying each other’s company and that of their many cats and friends. Mr. Yowell died in November 2002 after 60 years of marriage. 

Mr. and Mrs. Yowell made their first home together on the beach in Oxnard at the Naval Air Station, where Robert served as a naval flight instructor during World War II. Upon his discharge from the Navy, the pair moved to Azusa and soon became longtime residents of Covina on Buenos Aires Drive as Mr. Yowell pursued a 30-year career with Aerojet.

The Yowells retired to Mt. Baldy where they lived for many years before moving to Claremont Manor in 1989.

Through the years, Phyllis and Robert were always together at parties, functions and events, contributing positively in every community they called home. They traveled the world together through Europe, Africa and Asia, including China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and every state in the Union. Their thoughtful, purposeful, fun, adventuresome and kind approach to life influenced many of their friends and family over the years. One could never sit down with Mrs. Yowell for a conversation and not leave a more informed, educated and better person.

Mrs. Yowell is survived by her nieces Vicki Kerr Riley of Del Mar and Cecily Kerr Cullen of San Jose. 

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