‘Phyllis Gwynn Carley, much beloved member of the Harker community for over 50 years, passed away in her sleep April 25. She was 88 years old. At a school that values its deep ties to the community Mrs. Carley, as she was known to so many, was an institution and an irreplaceable tie to our past.
Born December 29, 1920, Mrs. Carley came of age prior to World War II in the Salinas Valley where in 1937, in one of her cherished moments, she was named Hostess of the California Rodeo in Salinas and awarded a pair of silver spurs she always treasured. She was a life-long aficionado of rodeos — always pronounced “ro day’ o” — and returned to Salinas to attend the California Rodeo every year, as well as attending other rodeos in central and northern California as often as possible.
Harker School was graced with Mrs. Carley’s presence in a number of valuable roles, culminating with her services as secretary to the Board of Trustees and as a private clipping service for Harker’s Office of Communication. She opened her Harker career in 1952 in Palo Alto as a driver, shuttling local students to and from school. She progressed by virtue of her wonderful disposition and hard work to become secretary first to Donald Nichols, then to Howard Nichols and remained in that role for many years, though her contribution to campus life went far beyond her desk in the administration building.
After retiring from Harker, Mrs. Carley went to work for her nephew at Hackett Pipeline and, following her retirement from there, Mrs. Carley continued to provide critical services to the school as secretary of the Board of Trustees. She was also a familiar face to current students and, as an avid sports fan, could be spotted at many home games. It didn’t matter what sport, she just enjoyed seeing kids active.
In 2006, Mrs. Carley received the Harker Alumni Association (HAA) Service Award, which was immediately renamed in her honor the HAA Phyllis Carley Service Award. Head of School Christopher Nikoloff noted, “Whether cheering our students at games or serving as secretary to the Board of Trustees, Phyllis Carley’s long career at The Harker School embodied the true spirit of service. Everyone at Harker enjoyed seeing Phyllis around campus, and her attitude of service and love has helped make Harker the special place it is today.”
Mrs. Carley lived the advice she once gave high school students, to “enjoy life and consider your friends. Academics are important, but so are our attitudes. Your attitude will stay with you throughout your life.” Mrs. Carley’s attitude, her dedication to her family and friends and to Harker will always inspire those who knew her.
She is preceded in death by her husband Rue Carley. Mrs. Carley is survived by her grandson, Dale Johnson (Harker Academy Class of 1980), stepsons Edwin and Ken Blasé, as well as many other nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
A Celebration of Phyllis Carley’s Life will be held on Thursday, May 7 at 5 p.m. in Nichols Hall Auditorium, 500 Saratoga Ave., San Jose
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations can be made to The Harker School with The Phyllis Carley Student Scholarship Fund noted in the memo section and sent to The Harker School Advancement Office at 3800 Blackford Avenue, San Jose, CA 95117.