November 11, 2021


Phyllis Roof was one of the gentlest and gifted women I ever knew. Her life was anything but easy—but she faced each day with grace and determination.  When she and Larry had twin sons Shannon and Shawn, both children had severe autism. The resources these young parents needed desperately were not available. As educators, they longed to create a residential school for children like theirs.  For years, they labored to get funding to fulfill their ambitious dream.

They began making beautiful crafts and hosting an annual Sparkleberry Faire fundraiser at their country home. They applied for grants. At one time I gave Phyllis a job working part time at the hospital. 

Although the residential school never was possible, they continued their advocacy for their sons.  Eventually they entered a more stable period when for several years they had a lovely retail shop called Sparkleberry Faire. The quality and craftmanship of everything they sold were outstanding.  The sights and smells and sounds of the little shop were enchanting.  I still cherish one of Phyllis’ cherubs I bought there!

They also had a daughter Dee who inherited her parents’ artistic gifts. Eventually their adult sons had to go into a state-operated facility to get the care they required. Phyllis and Larry returned to the Asheville area where he taught at Warren Wilson College.  Just as Phyllis began to have some peace and freedom, she was killed in a freak car accident.

Dee is carrying on her parents’ legacy.  She got her MFA in Graphic Design from Kansas State University.  Today she is an artist and educator in Kansas City, with an emphasis on nature and care for the environment.  Her website tells her story and displays her beautiful creations. She truly is Phyllis’ daughter.

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