Phyllis Margaret Lyster Gale, a loving wife, mother, and grandmother, died March 15 at her home in Camden, S.C. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Bethesda Presbyterian Church, 502 DeKalb Street, Camden. A family service will take place at a later time in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Contributions in her memory may be made to an organization of one’s choice.
She was born July 3, 1931 in St. Johnsbury to Vera Mae Jenness and Philip Alfred Lyster. Her father died one month before she was born and her mother died when she was 6 years old. After her mother’s death, she grew up in the homes of her grandparents, Margaret Suitor and Alfred Herbert Lyster of St. Johnsbury, and her two aunts, Hazel Lyster Wright of St. Johnsbury, and Hildred Lyster Batchelder of Montpelier, Vermont. She attended elementary and middle schools in St. Johnsbury and then studied at and graduated from Montpelier High School in Montpelier in 1949. She studied for two years at Johnson State Teachers College (now Johnson State College) in Johnson, Vermont, and transferred to the University of Vermont in Burlington where she graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education in 1953.
She married Burton Boutwell Gale at her aunt’s home at 8 Park Avenue in Montpelier on September 5, 1953. As the wife of a career U.S. Air Force officer, she traveled extensively within the United States and overseas. She taught second grade at Lackland Air Force Base during their San Antonio,Texas, assignment. She studied Hebrew for a year in Washington, D.C., in preparation for sharing duties as the wife of a diplomat when her husband served as Assistant Air Attache in Tel Aviv, Israel, from 1968 to 1971. She also studied archaeology at Tel Aviv University and worked on dig sites within the country.
From assignment to assignment she was active in the Officers’ Wives’ Clubs, and in South Carolina was involved in the Sumter Garden Club. In 1973 when her husband retired at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, the couple moved to Camden where they became very involved in the life of this community and state. She continued to live in Camden after her husband’s death in 2001.
She was a member of numerous lineage societies including Colonial Dames of the XVIIth Century, National Society of the Daughters of the American Colonists, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, National Society Dames of the Court of Honor, New England Women, Order of the First Families of New Hampshire 1622-1680, and Associated Daughters of Early American Witches (Susannah North Martin). She served as an officer at various local, state, and national levels with many of those organizations.
As Registrar of the Hobkirk Hill Chapter of the DAR in Camden for many years, she guided many women as they researched and prepared their applications for membership.
As DAR State Chairman of the Patriotic File, she accepted state chapters’ copies of membership application papers that are housed at the SCDAR library at the Camden Archives and Museum for lineage search and documentation.
She represented the Hobkirk Hill Chapter and SCDAR when she served on the Battle of Camden Project Advisory Board. The Battle of Camden site inspired her passionate involvement as ownership transferred from the Hobkirk Hill Chapter to state and national protection.
In February 2014 she was recognized at the DAR state conference in Columbia, S.C., for having been a member for 40 years. In September, 2017 she was recognized by the Hobkirk Hill Chapter for her many years as Registrar.
She was a member of Historic Camden, the Kershaw County Historical Society in South Carolina, and Friends of the Camden Archives and Museum. She served as secretary on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Camden Archives and Museum during the $750,000 campaign in which she helped to raise funds to build the two-story addition to the building in 2005. The addition expanded the museum, adding a meeting room as well as storage space. Renovation to the original Carnegie Library wing created additional space for research. While serving as librarian in several historical organizations over many years, she helped bring in a significant number of books to the DAR and archives collections at the Camden Archives and Museum.
She was a member of the Friends of the Kershaw County Public Library. She spent 10 years on the board of the library, served as a Trustee, and for many years loved working on the children’s books section for the yearly book sale.
She was also a member of Bethesda Presbyterian Church and the Kershaw County Fine Arts Center, a social member of the Camden Hunt, a member of Springdale Hall in Camden, and supported the Kershaw County Humane Society’s Walter M. Crowe Animal Shelter (now the Thiel-Meyer Pet Adoption Center).
She was a member of the Vermont Historical Society, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Orleans County Historical Society (Brownington, Vermont), and the American Association of University Women. In her lifetime she was proud to see women’s rights grow to ever greater equality.
Her passion was always genealogy, her family’s as well as other families’ when assisting in research. History, in particular the history of the places where she lived, was very important to her. Reading, especially historical novels, gave her great pleasure. Her love of her native Vermont was enduring.
She is survived by two daughters, Jade Gale Northrup and her husband Kerry, of Camden, and Ashley Gale Coker and her husband, Michael, of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; her grandchildren, Oliver Burton Northrup and his wife, Lauren Danae, of Venice, California, Joshua Michael Coker and Ashley Caroline Joyner of Johns Island, S.C., and Maxx Michael Coker of Mt. Pleasant; a great grandson, Foxx Michael Coker; and cousin Margaret Batchelder Vercoe and her husband, Maurice, of Burlington.
She was predeceased by her brother, Alfred Philip, a sister who lived for a few hours, and her sister, Dorothy Morrison Coombs.
Kornegay Funeral Home, Camden Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.
Online condolences may be made to the Gale family by visiting www.kornegayfuneral.com.