Celebrating the Life of Phyllis Hanstra

Phyllis Hanstra
August 19, 1933 – October 8, 2017

We are mourning and celebrating the life of our dear matriarch Phyllis Hanstra.  She has been instrumental in the integrity and legacy of Reliable Exterminators.  Once her husband Jim Hanstra purchased the business from his uncle Charlie in 1971, she became involved, supporting Jim, doing accounting, and making calls from home after hours. It wasn’t until 1982 that she became full time. After Jim’s sudden heart attack in 1982 at age 50, Phyllis and son Bob were faced with the decision to continue Jim’s work with the company or sell.  With faith in God, they chose to keep the company; and God has blessed it ever since.

Phyllis ran the office and route scheduling for 30 years.  She knew customers by name and had several phone numbers and addresses memorized.  With an impeccable memory, she knew where each technician was each day and how each account should be serviced.  She knew as much about insects as the technicians and advised our customers accurately.

She was active in the Indiana Pest Management Association and helped start the Professional Women in Pest Management Association, a division of the National Pest Management Association.  She worked until age 77 when she handed over the scheduling book to granddaughter Andrea Patrie.  We celebrated her retirement and the company’s 75th anniversary in April 2011.

Reliable’s 75th anniversary party and Phyllis’ retirement party in 2011. Phyllis on left, granddaughter Andrea, and son Bob

Phyllis loved getting family together, playing card games, and cooking.  She appointed herself as the welcome committee of her church, Sunrise Christian Reformed Church, and made a point to welcome every single new person, especially the twenty somethings.  She hosted dinners several times a month at her house, cooking for up to 30 people sometimes.

Bob and mother Phyllis Hanstra 2001

Phyllis peacefully went to heaven Sunday morning to be with Jesus and her husband Jim. She was surrounded by her family the week before she went. It’s been 35 years since she saw her husband, and I’ll bet they’re having a great time together again now.

She will always be remembered in our hearts and her legacy will continue at Reliable Exterminators.

Here’s her obituary:

Phyllis Jean Hanstra, 84, of Lafayette passed away on Sunday, October 8, 2017 surrounded by her family at Franciscan St. Elizabeth East Hospital.

Phyllis was born August 19, 1933 in Lafayette to the late Fred and Dorothy (Vanderkolk) Sietsma. When Phyllis was just 19 years old, she flew to Alaska to marry the love of her life, Jim Hanstra. The couple lived in Alaska for the next 18 months and soon had their first child, Nancy.

Jim and Phyllis Hanstra 1980

After returning to Lafayette, Phyllis and Jim eventually became owners of Reliable Exterminators in 1971. After Jim’s death in 1982, Phyllis faithfully worked in the business with her son, Bob. She retired in 2011 when her granddaughter Andrea joined the business.

She was a former member of the Lafayette Christian Reformed Church and a founding member of Sunrise Christian Reformed Church. Phyllis loved her family dearly and relished spending time with them. She enjoyed welcoming people at church, entertaining in her home, and traveling, including 47 trips to Alaska.

She is survived by her children, Nancy (David) Heynen of Anchorage, AK; Bob (Deb) Hanstra of Lafayette; Linda Cushman of Anchorage, AK; her grandchildren, Jill (Brad) Gaskill of Anchorage, AK; Kirk Heynen of Seattle, WA; Andrea (Philip) Patrie of West Lafayette; Robin (Ramy) Audi of Houston, TX; Tony (Emily) Hanstra of Lafayette; Tyler Cushman of Anchorage, AK; her great-grandchildren, Lauren and Luke Gaskill, Mac and James Patrie; her sister, Martha Smith of Lafayette; and her sister-in-law, Joyce Hanstra of Lafayette. Phyllis was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and sister Patty Burkenpas.

Family and friends are welcome to visit on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Sunrise Christian Reformed Church, 909 East 500 South, Lafayette, IN 47909. Funeral services will follow at 7:00 PM officiated by Pastor Randy Bergsma. Private interment will take place on Wednesday at Tippecanoe Memory Gardens. In lieu of usual remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to Sunrise Christian Reformed Church, Lafayette Christian School, or the Community Cancer Network.

Hippensteel Funeral Home is handling arrangements. Share memories and condolences online.

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