Phyllis Wood

Obituary of Phyllis L. Wood

Phyllis Wood of Amsterdam, NY passed away suddenly on August 17, 2022, at St. Mary’s Hospital at the age of 93. Born March 4, 1929 to the late Reba and Gordon Lawton, Phyllis graduated from the former Wilbur H. Lynch High School Class of 1946.  Graduating from Keuka College in 1950, she worked as a Chemist at GE before earning her Masters in Education, where she began a teaching career with the Amsterdam School District at East Main and Vrooman Avenue Elementary Schools.  She later received a second Masters in Library Science from SUNY at Albany and became a Media Specialist at Tecler Elementary School.  She is most remembered by her students for her wonderful storytelling, and in the Rockton neighborhood for her annual Halloween celebration, dressed as a witch passing out treats, complete with eerie decorations and a new theme every year – and featured in the local paper.


Phyllis was dedicated and active in her community and as a member of the United Presbyterian Church, serving in different roles; she was a longtime choir member and prominent in the prayer shawl group that comforted many during difficult times. Post-retirement, she enjoyed traveling, from driving cross country, to an Alaska trip, a Mississippi River boat cruise, a Virgin Islands cruise and a trip to Egypt.


In 1954, Phyllis lost her husband, Vedder Richard Wood, to polio; four days later she gave birth to twins on Christmas Eve. They joined their 2 ½ year old sister. She raised her family in the Town of Florida and later moved to Amsterdam when her father passed away. Phyllis was predeceased by her daughter, Sharon Wood, in 2005, and her brother, Ronald Lawton, in 2021.


She is survived by two children, daughter Kathy Barresi (husband Barry) of Denver, CO, and son Richard Wood (wife Pat) of Amsterdam, NY; five grandchildren, Michael Wood (wife Christina) of Amsterdam, NY, Kevin Wood (wife Carrie Francisco) of Delanson, NY, Alison Wood of Amsterdam, NY, Kristin Clark (husband Frank) of Denver, CO, and Caitlin Teare Bell (husband Colin) of Denver, CO, as well as three great-grandchildren, Broderick (Brody) Wood, Naomi Clark and Frankie Clark.


Phyllis has shown her friends, family and community much love and compassion, as well as exemplary fortitude in the challenges throughout her life. She will be well remembered by her loving family.  There will be no funeral service or visitation. The family will hold a private graveside service. 


In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to her beloved church, United Presbyterian Church of Amsterdam or the charity of one’s choice.


The family extends an expression of gratitude to Hillcrest Springs, for their loving care and friendship. 


Cremation arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Betz, Rossi & Bellinger Family Funeral Home. Please visit the online memorial and guestbook at

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