|Conrad Frieze and Phyllis Sprague Frieze, December 2nd, 1972|
1971 was a banner year for me because I met a lovely queen of my own who is now Phyllis Marie Frieze and sharing the golden years of retirement. It was no coincidence that we met. For two years, I had been playing the ‘eligible bachelor” bit on the Seattle scene including an extended affair with an ex-secretary, then a succession of available women. My daughter Stephanie, who was now married and soon made me a grandfather, did not like some of the women with whom I turned up with. [In fact, I loved Penny, the Boeing secretary, but she had a little boy and was considerably younger than my father. The last “girlfriend” that Dick and I went out with him with was definitely a “broad”, not a lady and we went into panic mode because he was lonely and likely to attach himself to her. We had a neighbor who was attractive and very classy so we acted quickly.]
Stephanie and her first husband, Dick Casey, lived in the Shorewood apartments on Mercer Island. They had a nice neighbor across the hall, Phyllis Chilton, who was a divorcee. Stephanie invited me to their apartment for my birthday dinner in March 1971 and asked me specifically to come alone. She also invited her neighbor from across the hall.
From the moment Phyllis walked in that evening, none of the others had a chance. Here was a slender, young-looking (she turned out to be just three years my junior), brunette with a beautiful smile. The “tender trap” snapped without ever having been set and baited. We thoroughly enjoyed dinner.
While we were sitting, Phyllis with her back to the kitchen door where Stephanie was swamping up dishes, Phyllis mentioned two sons, Barrett and Phillip. I innocently said, “Oh, you have two sons?”
Stephanie appeared in the kitchen door and, behind Phyllis, waved her hands and held up eight fingers just as Phyllis answered calmly, “No, I have six sons and two daughters.”
At that point I was ready to bolt and run like a rabbit until Phyllis went on to assure me that all of her children were grown except for nine-year-old Phillip who had come along several years after her other youngest [13 years to be exact], Barrett. Only Phillip would be living with her.
Phyllis was unbelievable. After having and raising eight children, she literally had the figure of a twenty-year-old. When we thanked Stephanie and Dick for dinner and said goodnight, I went across the hall with Phyllis for a nightcap. When I left for my bachelor apartment in Renton we had a date for dinner the next evening.
Phyllis and I soon discovered that we had many things in common. For one, when I was in V-12 at the University of Washington living at the Beta house, Phyllis Marie Sprague was a pledge at the Chi Omega house just down the street. (She allowed as how she had seen us at our morning calisthenics out on the median and one in a while when we marched.) We both enjoyed gold and much of our courtship was on golf courses. She was soon my partner on a bowling team and she became a regular with me in Smitty’s fishing boat.
We were both cautious, each having been through a divorce, and even tired to call it off once for a while, however, we had a quiet wedding ceremony on December 2nd , 1972. We spent a week of honeymoon snowed in at Lake Tahoe—and me down in my back from having had to put chains on the car on the way over the pass!
We lived for a time at the Shorewood Apartments on Mercer Island, then, with Phillip who had turned eleven, bought a house on the little Braeburn golf course between Bellevue and Redmond. My world travels continued but I did not like leaving Phyllis. Although, not being a Boeing vice-president I had to pay her way, I did manage to take Phyllis with me to Hawaii, Mexico City, and she joined me on one trip to Singapore where I tacked a week of vacation onto a round the world trip so we could see the sights there and in Tokyo on the way home.
[I am happy to take credit for hooking my father up with Phyllis. She truly loved him for 29 years and kept him at home even as he lay dying. She truly was his queen and I am forever in her debt. She remarried two years after his death, to a shipmate of my dad’s—another sweet Midwest man, who has since passed.]