With profound sadness we announce the passing of Phyllis Diane (Hodges) Wernli, a loving and devoted wife, mother, nana and friend. She was surrounded by family and friends until her last breath in her beloved home in Manitowoc, Wis., at 73 years of age on Oct. 14, 2019.


Phyllis was born in Mt. Airy, N.C., on Jan. 9, 1946, to Lelia and DD Hodges. She attended Franklin School and went on to Lenoir Rhyne College where she received her bachelor of science in nursing. She found her true calling working in pediatrics and OBGYN. Even after retirement, Phyllis continued to serve as an RN at Falls Creek Baptist Church Camp, was a champion for the March of Dimes, and, later served at the Crossing Pregnancy Crisis Center.


In 1970, she met the love of her life, Joe Lynn Wernli, while he was serving in the United States Navy. Joe and Phyllis married in 1971, and lived in Connecticut and Georgia, finally settling in Ardmore, where she gave birth to the two loves of her life, Michael and Dustin Wernli. She was an amazing mother, raised two Eagle Scouts, hosted Thursday night dinners for the entire football team, and ensured her boys had freshly pressed clothes. She raised two men who love Jesus.


Phyllis had great joy for life, could hold a conversation with any stranger, made friends wherever she went, and found her greatest joy in her six grandchildren, Gracyn, Kate, Bru, Colt, Luke and Grey Wernli.


She was predeceased by her beloved parents, Lelia and DD; brother, Harold; sister, Mary Francis; sister-in-law, Dorothy and nephews, Dickey and Skipper Hodges.


Phyllis lived a full life, and will be remembered as the most amazing wife, mother, and nana a family could hope for. Though her life was cut too short, her legacy will live into eternity through the thousands of lives she touched; her heart beats on through her children and grandchildren. Though she battled an illness for the last two years of her life, she never faltered in her faith in Christ, her love for her family, and her passion for life. Her family knows that she would be with them today if Heaven was not so far away.


A viewing was held at Harrigan Parkside Crematory Chapel, 612 North Water Street, Manitowoc on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. A formal celebration of Phyllis’s new life in Christ will be held in Mt. Airy, N.C., at Oak Grove Baptist Church at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.


Flowers appreciated for the celebration of her life in North Carolina. Memorials in Phyllis’s name can be given to The Crossing Pregnancy Crisis Center in Manitowoc or the March of Dimes. Online condolences can be written to jwernli@swbell.net.


The Harrigan Parkside Funeral Home, 628 North Water Street, Manitowoc, WI 54220 is assisting with arrangements.