Palo Alto Online - Lasting Memories - Alma Howard Phillips's memorial

Alma Howard Phillips
July 30, 1935-April 19, 2024
Palo Alto, United States

Alma Phillips passed away peacefully on Friday April 19, 2024, after gracefully enduring several years of dementia. Alma is most remembered for her loving dedication to family, to friends, to children, and to the service of the nature of the universe, which she came to believe is love.

Alma Ayleen Howard was born in Pampa, TX, where she grew up on a farm and enjoyed acting, basketball, and encouragement, from a favorite teacher, to attend college. After graduating from high school in White Deer, she attended UT Austin, earning a degree in Education. It was at UT that she met Jim Phillips, the love of her life, with whom she lived a full life, 63 years of marriage, and raised a family.

Early in their marriage, Alma taught at the primary level in Texas and New York. While she was quite successful and found teaching rewarding, she ended her career to care for her young family. Alma was a fierce advocate for her children’s education and provided endless support for her husband in his career and volunteer pursuits. The family moved to Palo Alto in 1972, where Alma began a lifetime of service to the community, much of it involving childhood education.

Alma’s educational volunteerism was prolific. She worked with the Environmental Volunteers, giving school groups geology/wildlife tours of the Los Trancos Open Space Preserve; and served as a docent for Deer Hollow Farm. She also tutored many young readers via Avenidas. Her students never forgot her, often calling out her name when they spotted her in the schoolyard.

She also worked for the Palo Alto Housing Corporation advocating for fair housing, and took on the role of Campaign Manager for Ellen Fletcher, who won a seat on the City Council. She became a feminist, volunteering with the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Together with Jim, Alma also volunteered for Kiwanis Club and other organizations, which earned them the Avenidas Lifetime Achievement award for their volunteerism in 2021.

Alma loved to read, and enjoyed a book (AKA drinking) group with friends. She also had a close-knit group of friends known as the Women’s Circle. With Jim, Alma traveled extensively, birding along the way; hiked and backpacked with the amazing “Walking Group;” and even learned to sail in the Bay despite her fear of the water. She adored her grandchild and was dedicated to spending as much time as possible with Ember. She and Jim were big fans of Stanford Women’s Basketball, Theaterworks, and Master Sinfonia.

Alma is survived by her children Steve and Janet, grandchild Ember, daughter-in-law Lise, sister Lou and brother-in-law Tom, brother Cary Don, extended family, and two excellent caregivers (Christine & Emelie). She will also be missed by many a friend, student, fellow volunteer, and neighbor.

Tags: teacher/educator, public service

0 entries Submit a remembrance
Memorial service
A Celebration of Life will be held August 11, 2024. Please contact the family at for details if you would like to attend. Please share your remembrances on Lasting Memories, a service of Palo Alto Online:
Make a donation
Donations in memory of Alma may be made to any of these 501c3 organizations: Environmental Volunteers - Deer Hollow Farms - Planned Parenthood Mar Monte -

About this site     Contact us