Phyllis Irene Putnam, 88, of Tiffin, died on Saturday afternoon, March 17, 2018, surrounded by her family. She was born Dec. 4, 1929, in Brooklyn, NY. to Philip and Gladys (Kraft) Millspaugh.
She married Leon Joseph Putnam, May 17, 1955, in Rochester, NY and after over 62 years of marriage he passed away on Nov. 5 2017.
Survivors include two sons, Mark (Sherry) Putnam, of Lima; and Lee Putnam, of
Seattle, Wash.; and a grandson, Carter Forrest Putnam of Lima.
She is preceded in death by her parents and husband.
Phyllis was a graduate of James Madison High School, Brooklyn, NY., Kalamazoo
College (Bachelor’s degree in Sociology), and the University of Denver (Master’s degree in Social Work). She retired as a social worker in the mental health field in the towns of Findlay and Tiffin.
Once she finished graduate school she had a scholarship obligation to work with the Girl Scouts of America. She moved to Rochester, NY., worked with the Girl Scouts there, and soon met and married the man who would become her husband throughout her life.
They relocated to Massachusetts while Leon attended Harvard and she continued to work with the Girl Scouts. Later, she also worked with the YWCA in Worcester, Mass.
When Leon took a position with Heidelberg College teaching philosophy and religion, they headed off to Tiffin, OH., likely not realizing they would be spending more than 50 years there.
She applied for (and secured) a position at Tiffin State Hospital (now Tiffin Developmental Center) after being told that her social work background would be a good match for the mental health needs at the facility.
In 1968 she began working in Findlay as a part-time therapist for the Hancock County Mental Health Clinic. By the early 1970s she became the first executive director of the Hancock County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS). The agency greatly expanded during her time there and she retained her executive director role until she retired in 1997. While she did not miss the seemingly endless bureaucratic paperwork, she greatly missed her coworkers, volunteers, and colleagues whom she became friends with.
She continued many of those connections into retirement. In the 90s she worked to established a local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and was deeply involved with NAMI Ohio. She was also part of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky, and Wyandot counties. Additionally, she had active roles with the League of Women Voters, Tiffin Area Pax Christi, the Heidelberg Book Club, and the Seneca Metropolitan Housing Authority.
As a wife, mother, and community member, Phyllis worked tirelessly to promote social issues and to help others, often putting their needs before her own, with the hope of inspiring others to do the same.
A Celebration of Lives open house for Phyllis and Leon will take place from 1:30-4:30pm on Saturday May 19, 2018 at Reino’s Catering Room, 120 S. Washington St., Tiffin.
Memorial contributions may be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI Ohio, 1225 Dublin Rd., Suite 125, Columbus, OH 43215, http://www.namiohio.org
Arrangements have been entrusted to Traunero Funeral Home and Crematory, 214 S. Monroe St., Tiffin, Ohio 44883, (419) 447-3113.
To offer condolences to the family, go to: www.traunerofuneralhome.com
Donations may be made to:
National Alliance on Mental Illness
1225 Dublin Rd., Suite 125, Columbus OH 43215