The Passing of Phyllis Dorothy Wiles

I was saddened yesterday to learn of the passing of Phyllis Dorothy Wiles, 88, of Pittsfield, who retired from the college as comptroller in 1986.

Phyllis was born in 1928 in Oxford, Iowa, and moved to Williamstown as a child. She was educated in Williamstown schools.

Starting her career at the college in 1945 at age 17, Phyllis came on board as a full-time accountant, rising through the ranks to eventually hold the positions of assistant treasurer and comptroller. Her children remember her as someone who possessed the highest ethical standards and who always worked very hard, staying up late into the evening typing students’ papers for three cents a word as a way to supplement the family’s income. 

At Williams, Phyllis was known as the keeper of the endowment records, which she recorded by hand in a green ledger book. Colleagues remember her as someone who was very fair and who took her work very seriously. In her retirement, she enjoyed trips to Hawaii and other tropical places.

Known as a quiet young woman, Phyllis attended a Dale Carnegie course to gain self-confidence, which her family says helped advance her career and resulted in her volunteering for several causes.  She was a founding member of the Turner House Living Center for Veterans, where she served for 18 years on the board of directors.  She served also as treasurer of the Williams College Federal Credit Union for 30 years, was chairman of the music committee at the Second Congregational Church in South Williamstown, and a lifelong member and treasurer of the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary. 

Among her survivors are two current employees of the college and their spouses — her daughter Diane, who works as a dispatcher with Campus Safety and Security, and her husband Norbert of North Adams; and her daughter-in-law Laurie Wiles, who is the day supervisor at Lee Snack Bar in Paresky, and her husband Alan of Cheshire. She is also survived by her daughters Elizabeth Garcia and her husband Jorge of Pittsfield and Nancy Griffin and her husband Timothy of Pownal, Vt.; her sons Frank Jr. of Pittsfield and David and his partner Billie-Jo of North Bennington, Vt.; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her husband, Frank Wiles, Sr., predeceased her in 1985.

Calling hours for Phyllis will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 3, at Flynn & Dagnoli-Montagna Home for Funerals, West Chapels, 521 West Main St. in North Adams. Funeral services will take place at 10 a.m.Saturday, March 4, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 35 Park St. in Williamstown. Burial will follow in Eastlawn Cemetery, with a reception immediately following at the Water Street Grill in Williamstown.

Our thoughts are with Phyllis’ family and many friends.