December 16, 1928 ~ January 31, 2023
Calvin, North Dakota
Resided in: Fargo, North Dakota
Phyllis’ live streamed Funeral Mass can be viewed below starting at 10:30 AM on Saturday:
Phyllis Stoa, 94, Fargo, ND passed away on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at Fargo Elim.
Phyllis Eileen Quigley was born on December 16, 1928 in Calvin, ND, the oldest of five children, to Bernerd Quigley and Edith (Mountain) Quigley. During the depression, Phyllis was her dad’s sidekick as he worked as a surveyor in the farmers’ fields around Bathgate, ND until he became a border patrolman with the U.S. Federal Government. Phyllis’ lifelong ability to roll with changes was developed early as the Quigley family moved to numerous border towns in North Dakota and Minnesota to accommodate her dad’s career.
After Phyllis graduated from Bemidji High School in 1946 in Bemidji, MN, she started courses at Bemidji State College because Bernerd and Edith wanted their daughter to get a degree. When Phyllis realized she was playing more cards than attending classes, she announced to her parents that she wanted to see what was outside the city limits. She turned down her friends’ invitations to join them working for the phone company in Minneapolis. And in the Spring of 1948, with her parents’ blessing, her mom’s handsewn outfits, her dad’s government connections, and her own ability to work a 10-key register, 19-year-old Phyllis nabbed an FBI job working in payroll in the Department of Justice in Washington DC.
“I knew how to work a 10-key from working part-time for a Bemidji grocer. The FBI thought that my experience was a little better than some of the other girls’ backgrounds, so they gave me a more prestigious payroll job in Justice,” she recalled almost 8 decades later. According to Phyllis, Justice was the job to get because D.C. summers were hot and sultry, and the Justice building was the only building with air conditioning. Yes. She got the J. Edgar Hoover job no sweat.
After returning from her Washington DC experience late that year, Phyllis gained a renewed interest in her education. She enrolled in the Moorhead State Teachers College (now Minnesota State University Moorhead) and it was there at a local college hang out where she spotted her future husband.
“He was good looking and nice. I also liked that he played trumpet and his cousins lived next door to my parents in Grand Forks,” she recalled in the last couple of years.
Phyllis married Theodore Raymond Stoa on June 1, 1953, in Grand Forks, ND. When Ted didn’t get into the military because of his hearing difficulties, Phyllis and Ted scrambled for a new game plan. She started teaching in Fargo while Ted finished his degree.
Soon the couple moved to Warroad, MN where Ted taught high school math and they began their family, living in a drafty log house next to the river. With four kids in tow, the couple moved back to Fargo when Ted accepted a math teaching job with Agassiz School in 1961. They had 4 more children, 8 in total—4 boys, 4 girls—it kept the wrestling matches pretty even.
In addition, to encouraging her husband and family “to get over it” when facing struggles, Phyllis was best known for her ability to calmly juggle many things at once in a small house that split at the seams from music, laughter, and non-stop activity. Able to raise 8 kids on 2 Fargo teachers’ salaries, Phyllis could spitball balance a checkbook with a sideways glance and a straightforward prayer. She had a welcoming smile and a heaping plate of food for any of her children’s friends that happened by for a meal or a holiday celebration.
In 1993, Phyllis retired from teaching with about 30 of those years logged at Roosevelt Elementary.
When Ted died in 1998, Phyllis said she didn’t want to burden her kids so she became active with a study club, a Fine Arts club, her college sorority get-togethers at the Fargo Country Club, and by attending the sporting and school events of her growing cadre of grandkids. It was also then that she reignited her love of travel and adventure. She went on trips around the country and world with family and friends, and a “Hearts of Gold” group from the Holy Spirit Church.
Being with family remained central throughout her 94 years of living. Her children laughed and tried to spice up their cooking skills because over the last 25 years, Phyllis unabashedly compared multiple dinner offers on a weekly basis, asking what her Fargo kids were serving on the menu before deciding which home she’d bestow her matriarchal presence.
One of Phyllis’s granddaughters summed it this way: “Being the beautiful, perfect, spunky, dessert-loving, FBI-employee-turned-impactful-teacher, Irish American and hilarious woman she was, Grandma gave the ultimate Midwestern goodbye. She said her goodbyes Thursday evening with her kids and their spouses by her side and her grandchildren on FaceTime. And then her goodbyes continued Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday. And would you believe it, even on Monday. And then, having spent less than 12 hours in a nursing home at the age of 94, Grandma went to Heaven.”
Phyllis is preceded in death by husband Ted, her parents Bernerd and Edith Quigley, her brothers Mike and Neil Quigley, her sister Patsy Baldwin, and sister-in-law Marjorie Stoa. Phyllis is survived by her brother Pat Quigley, and her eight children and their spouses—Ted (Sharon), Dan (Sherry), Judi (Kathleen Jameson), Connie Grotte (Monty), Larry (Deb), Monica Fritz (Lyle), Angie Lipp (Terry), and Jon (Beth), as well as 20 grand and 26 great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral Mass: 11:00 A.M. Saturday, February 4, 2023, at Nativity Catholic Church, Fargo ND, with visitation starting at 10:00 A.M.
Burial: Holy Cross Cemetery North, Fargo.
Memorial donations can be made in Phyllis’s name to Riverview Place and Ethos Hospice.
Funeral Mass - Saturday: February 4, 2023 @ 11:00 am
Nativity Catholic Church, Fargo
1825 S 11th St.
Fargo , North Dakota 58103
Visitation - Saturday: February 4, 2023 @ 10:00 - 11:00 am
Nativity Catholic Church, Fargo
1825 S 11th St.
Fargo , North Dakota 58103
View current weather.
The family greatly appreciates donations made to these charities in Phyllis Stoa 's name.
Ethos Home Care and Hospice
3361 45th Street South Suite 100
5300 12th St S
Fargo, North Dakota
I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family.
Thank you so much, Linda. We were so fortunate to have her here as long as we did.
So so very sorry for your loss Connie!! So hard to lose our beloved moms. Keeping you close to my heart
Prayers to the Stoa family, so sorry for your loss.
Dear Stoa family, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Mother. Your family is in my prayers.
Your family is in our thoughts and prayers!
It has been such a joy to get to know Phyllis during her many years living at Riverview Place. Serving as the Director of Mission and Pastoral Care, I was privileged to have several private conversations with her and learn what a beautiful and thoughtful person she is! May she have peaceful rest in the arms of God whom she loved so dearly. You are all in my prayers.
Mrs. Stoa was my fourth-grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary in 1975-76. I remember her as kind, caring and fun. One of my favorites! My heart goes out to your family on your loss.
I am sorry for your loss.
A great and wonderful mother
May then memories be many, and may they last forever.
Dan and family –
We are so sorry to hear of the passing of your beautiful Mom! She must have been quite the character and we would have enjoyed getting to know her. Blessings to all of you as you grieve in your loss but share beautiful memories of your mother’s love!
Deb and Chris Krogsgaard
My condolences to the family,
I enjoyed knowing Phylis at the Riverview beauty salon. She was a loyal client and we had many enjoyable conversations. I will miss her.
Prayers to the Stoa family. Phyllis was an amazing person, always had a smile and a joy to be around.
Larry, Deb & all of the Phyllis Stoa family. Thoughts & Prayers are with all of the families.
So sorry to hear about your mom Larry, sounds like she had a pretty amazing life!
So sorry for the loss of Phyllis. What wonderful memories I have of our many family get togethers over the years and especially when we all were kids. Your mom was such an inspiration being able to juggle many demands on her time and keeping positive and calm. What an amazing legacy she leaves behind through a large and wonderful family. Her many lessons will live on in each of you. The service yesterday was a great sendoff. I was glad to be able to attend from afar virtually. Hugs, love and prayers to each of you.