Phyllis Key

Phyllis Ann (Arnold) Key woke up on May 4, 2020 surrounded by her husband, parents, brother, and all the rest of her family and friends in a much better place.  Our mother/grandmother was, in the words of the newest member of our family, “a remarkable woman who, until recently, drove everywhere, lived completely independently, and played fiercely competitive Scrabble with her 95-year old neighbor”.  Her own father called her “something extra”.

Mom never sat still.  Not when she was earning her R.N. at the Hackensack Hospital School of Nursing, nor when she and Frank Key made a home in Closter after marrying on October 17, 1953, nor when they built the house on White Avenue in Old Tappan, and nor when she had 3 of us all under the age of 5 (and still managed to teach Sunday School and then later be a Den Mother and Girl Scout Leader).  Nor when she returned to nursing at Ingleside in OT and then on to Tinkerbell after her parents passed.  Nor when she retired and continued her hiking (honored by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 2019 with their “Lifetime Volunteer Award”), biking, swimming (Northern Valley!), walking, volunteering (she loved her two ESL students and taking care of the staff and patients at the Breast Center first in Pascack Valley and then in Nyack Hospital).  Nor in teaching Tai Chi at Foxhill and reaching out to all the residents with a smile and the offer of a game of Scrabble (never letting on that she knew all the 2 letter words and a zillion ways to use the X on a triple letter score).

Grandma, Grandma G or just G to her grandchildren, she was thankful and proud to see each one of them walk across the stage to receive their high school and college/university diplomas.  Her grandchildren Melissa Flick (Allen), Chris Key (Bridget), Malka Key (Chris Seeling), Hanna Key (Micah Bot-Miller), Rachel Rizzuto (Brett) and Nick Beals, continue her legacies of a love of hiking and the outdoors, an intolerance for injustice, and a soft spot for their pets.

Her children, Eric Key (Cynthia), Glenn (Liz) and Sharon (Donny) are forever grateful for her love and leading by example. 

She was predeceased by her husband (Frank Key), her parents (Augusta and Vince Arnold) and her brother (Vince Arnold). 

Aunt Phyl was beloved by her nieces and nephews and the many lives that she touched. 

In lieu of flowers, her designated charities are:

Tomorrow’s Children in Hackensack –

Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer –

Church of the Holy Communion –

We are thankful of our longstanding family tradition of cremate immediately and celebrate when convenient. So for now, just keep her in your heart, say an extra prayer and hold on tight to your loved ones; you never know when that last goodbye will come.


  1. Dr. Spero E. Demoleas

    Mrs. Key will always be remembered as one of my favorite patients! She was so caring to others. She fondly recalled her work as an RN, and loved her volunteer work. She was active, loved her hiking, and involved at all times. I remember her always doing her crossword puzzles as I attended to her foot care.
    She will be missed, but never forgotten!
    May GOD rest her soul!

  2. The Jaworski Family

    Rest In Peace Mrs. Key. From your White Avenue friends.

  3. The Kober Family

    Thanks, Mrs. key for always thinking of my grandmother Marie Limmer. She looked forward to seeing you come to the swim club on your bicycle with all the fresh veggies you would bring her.
    I’m sure Nan was there to welcome another angel.
    Peace , love and healing prayers.

  4. Teresa Merrick

    Phyllis will be missed at Holy Communion. She was always cheery and supportive.

  5. Mrs. Key was a loving and caring ESL teacher that I met at Old Tappan Library. We soon became friends and she called me as her ‘Korean daughter’ and I called her as my ‘American mother’.

    Her love for nature, generosity for those in need, and her positive outlook of the world was truly an inspiration to me.

    She taught me a lot through the numerous books she read and her sense of humor elevated her gracious character.

    She considered giving back to the community as a duty and brought her words to action through not only teaching ESL at the Old Tappan library but also volunteering at a hospital in Nyack.

    She was my role model and I trully love and admire her for what she has done.

    This spring, I had hoped to study English with her again. I had hoped we could have an outdoor class on a warm, sunny day and enjoy soda bread with a cup of coffee at the Rockland Bakery.
    Spring has come but Mrs. Key has gone for a better place.

    Mrs. Key, I hope you rest in peace.
    I will never forget what you have taught me and will share love, care, empathy, and a sense of humor with others, as you have taught me.

    I love you Mrs. Key.
    Rest in peace.

  6. Phyllis, I will always remember the mornings we shared at Holy Communion’s Food Pantry wherein we got to know each other. Your travels and/or adventures amazed me. You will be missed by all. Hope you are meeting lots of old friends.

  7. Jill Ten Broech

    Today I took a walk and thought of Phyllis. Early mornings we would meet she going one way and me the other. Such a lovely lady with a pleasant smile for everyone.

  8. Cheryl Mosiello

    My husband, Rob Lehmann, and I hiked often with Phyllis with ADK and had many fun times together.. We are very sad to hear the news of her passing. Our deepest sympathies to her family. She was a great lady.

  9. Phyllis was my beloved mother-in-law and friend. I was fortunate to be a part of her family. She welcomed me into her home the first time I met her — a stop at her house on a spring break ride home. The first year we spent Christmas together she scrambled to knit me a Christmas stocking and then made me ANOTHER one the next year, because the first one was not up to her creative standards. I think of her on every holiday — she always sent a card with personal note. And she was the essence of Thanksgiving in our household for over 25 years. She was a wonderful grandmother and a role model for how to care for and about other people and the planet. My home is filled with reminders. I miss her.

  10. Goodbye Cousin Phyllis! Say hi to my Mom Blanche Schlotterbeck (your older cousin) for me up there in heaven. I know she’ll be glad to spend time with you again! And thanks for tracking me down in Facebook a few years ago and then staying in touch- it meant a lot to me and also to my brother Mike.

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