Phyllis Dorothy Bear

August 7, 1931March 27, 2019

Phyllis Dorothy Bear passed away March 27, 2019 at Lakeside, CA. She was born August 7, 1931 in Manhattan, NY to Marshall and Marian Bear. She is survived by her brother, Douglas Bear, her nephews, Mark Bear and Deron Bear, and her great-niece and great-nephew. Phyllis moved to San Diego, CA with her family in 1952. She graduated from San Diego State University and received her doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles. She did post-doctoral work at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, with Alfred Hershey, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1969. Phyllis joined the University of Wyoming faculty in 1968. She was active in scholarly research and published widely in the field of microbiology during her tenure. In 1973 she received the Outstanding Faculty Woman of the Year award from UW students, and in 1980 the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award. Phyllis retired from UW in in 1995 and continued her research as a Visiting Professor at the University of California at San Diego. Phyllis enjoyed spending summers in Wyoming, where she fished and went hiking in the Snowy Mountains, and spending winters and holidays with family and friends in San Diego. She loved her pets and always brought them with her. Her last dog, Mist Two, kept her company during her final illness. A memorial will be held May 4, 2019 at 11 am in Marian Bear Natural Park. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Humane Society of the United States.


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Phyllis Dorothy Bear

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Anna Marie (Annie) Skalka

April 6, 2019

I met Phil in 1965, when we were both postdoctoral fellows, sharing space in the laboratory of Al Hershey. We were good colleagues and worked well together, and in 1969 published a seminal paper that focused on an important aspect of virus biology. But Phil was more than a valued science colleague, she became a close and dear friend. Phil was alone, and supremely self-sufficient and independent – but she quickly adopted me and my little family, and we adopted her. She became my “sister” and we shared much together – boating, gardening, dinners, barbeques and, of course, Tanqueray martinis - made by Phil and my husband, Rudy in graduate cylinders and then poured into freezer-chilled glasses. We were truly a family, and Phil doted on my baby girl Jeannie (Phil’s “Beanie”) who adored her “Faa” and the wonderful dog Tawny.
Although we had many adventures together at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the one that sticks in my mind, and is vintage Faa, occurred on an evening of the first full moon in March when she dragged me out of bed at midnight to catch the smelt run. These tiny fish would come in droves to the fresh springs that ran into the harbor to lay their eggs. It was surreal…The moonlight lit everything up; we needed only to dip our buckets into the water to collect dozens of the tiny critters. Even Tawny (with Phil, always) had a great time catching them. We froze bags of the smelt, which Phil would later smoke in an apparatus that she built. They were a tasty snack eaten whole, with martinis (of course).
We parted ways in 1968, as Phil accepted a faculty position at the University of Wyoming, and I went on to a research Institute in New Jersey. But we never lost touch – and we made may trips to visit Phil as our children were growing up. Our last visit was in summer of 2014. How fortunate we are to have known and loved this unique and marvelous soul.

Jeanne Skalka

April 5, 2019

I first met “Faa” as I called her when I was a baby. My mom worked in the lab with Phil. I loved Faa and I loved her dog and I loved being in the great outdoors with them right from the get go. Faa also introduced me to BBQ chicken legs before I had teeth. We had many a wonderful family vacation in the Wild West of WY with Faa, camping, fishing, sailing and later spending time at her cabin. I visited her on my own over the years as I grew up and we had a wonderful time sharing books and ideas, and I loved hearing Faa’s tales of adventure and watching her beloved hummers with her at the cabin. She really knew how to enjoy life and she shared that joy with everyone who met her. I will miss knowing she’s out there. Peace.

Marilyn Engstrom

April 5, 2019

Dr. Bear was a unique and necessary gift to the world. She was not only an intellectual scientist, she loved nature in every aspect. From hunkering down in her Wyoming cabin with a fire blazing, she rode out many blizzards, enjoying classical music, a great novel, and a viscous martini. She would keep a count of all the mule deer who ventured by her windows. In the summer she plied the waters of the prairie lakes, sailing or canoeing, catching numerous trout. In the evening she kept track of the numerous hummingbirds while sipping another of those martinis, measured with a graduated cylinder.
I am grateful for our friendship, our adventures learning to sail "what a wuss", for life skills she generously taught me through discussions, demonstrations, and practice. Not least, knowing how to grill chicken to perfection, enjoy reading a book aloud with a friend and how to measure and make a perfect martini. May she rest in peace and rise in glory. May her family and friends find comfort in fond memories and her great legacy as a professor, scientist, and lover of all creation.