Phyllis Amy Speers was born and raised in Saskatoon. Her mother, Ada (Taylor) Dawson arrived in Saskatoon from England in 1905. The following year her father, Cornelius Dawson, having been raised on a farm in Manitoba, arrived in Saskatoon with electrical engineering qualifications from Des Moines, Iowa. Ada and Con raised 10 children of whom Phyllis was the second.
Phyllis earned a BA and Bachelor’s of Education from the University of Saskatchewan. She was employed by the Saskatoon Public School Board for over 35 years as a teacher and a reading consultant in the guidance department.
In 1960, Phyllis married Robert James Duke Speers (born 1905), whose family farm was two miles west of Battleford between the Battle and North Saskatchewan Rivers. The farm was homesteaded in 1902 by Jim’s family. Phyllis eventually donated a portion of these lands to the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation in memory of Jim and his parents, and a stone monument was erected on the bank of the North Saskatchewan commemorating this legacy.
The Speers retired in 1970, continuing to spend summers at the farm while wintering in Saskatoon, Hawaii and Arizona. Jim introduced Phyllis to the joy of traveling and together they traveled extensively. Jim died in December 1988 at the age of 83. Although they had no children of their own, they had numerous nieces and nephews with whom Phyllis kept in close contact. Phyllis was a woman of unwavering faith in God and trust in Jesus. She was a very interesting, caring and generous person and will be greatly missed by her family and friends.
Phyllis passed away in December of 2012, leaving the proceeds of a life insurance policy to create the Jim and Phyllis Speers Fund, a designated fund at the Saskatoon Community Foundation. Grants from the fund will support the Saskatoon Community Clinic.