Phyllis Hoenen, 90, beloved family matriarch and Lewes Doo-Dah Parade grand-marshal, passed away and marched through the Pearly Gates on Saturday, May 25, 2019. Born in Phillipsburg, Pa., on Aug. 8, 1928, she and her family moved to Lewes, Del., when she was 1, and she would live there the rest of her life. She was the third child of William and Ruth Jefferson.
Hoenen graduated from Lewes High School in 1946 and then attended Goldey-Beacom Business College in Wilmington, Del. She married the love of her life and her high school sweetheart, Tom Hoenen, in 1950 and shared life with him until his passing in 1994. Together they raised their three children, Kathy, Rick and John.
For some years, Hoenen worked as a secretary before finding her true calling as an activities director, beginning at Lewes Convalescent Center and moving to Harbor Healthcare upon its opening.
There, she was able to do what she was so gifted at — making people laugh through stories, songs and games, making their days brighter with her compassion and her quick wit. She carried joy, happiness and light-heartedness wherever she went, as if it were her gift to hand out to everyone in her path. Some people collect things as a hobby; Hoenen collected friends and had the rare knack of keeping them for life.
Born of her loves for parades and Independence Day came something that she will long be remembered for: Lewes’ Doo-Dah Parade. Back in the mid-1960s, disappointed that at that time Lewes had no activities to celebrate the holiday, she would host Fourth of July parties for her friends in her yard on Chestnut Street. One thing led to another, until she and her dear friend Carolyn Shockley rallied people to gather pots, pans and metal trash can lids to use as cymbals, and along with a portable record player with an album of John Phillip Sousa marches, they took to the streets. She led the parade ever since, and it has grown into a much-anticipated event in Lewes.
A gregarious, social and sharp person, Hoenen was always interested in the lives of others, in politics and in culture. She traveled extensively, harboring a special affection for Aruba, which she visited many times with her family and friends.
She was a voracious reader, especially of mysteries, and she mastered the art of writing funny songs and poems for birthdays and milestone events. She left her family and friends a treasury of letters, family histories and scrapbooks that she penned throughout her life, along with copies of the skits she wrote for friends to perform over the years.
In addition to her parents and her husband, Hoenen was preceded in death by her brothers, Bill and Don Jefferson; her son-in-law Tom Enevold; her daughter-in-law Julie Molyneux Hoenen; her nephews Don and Lee Jefferson; and countless close friends whom she missed every day.
She is survived by her children Kathy Hoenen-Enevold, Rick Hoenen, and John Hoenen and his wife, Diana; grandchildren, Ashley Tanis and her husband, Joe, Leah Hoenen and her husband, Karl Arnberg, and Jason Hoenen and his wife, Viktoriya; her great-grandchildren, Sage and Aspen Tanis, Anders and Linnea Hoenen-Arnberg, and Jrake Hoenen; a lifelong friend she grew up with on Market Street in Lewes, Peg Hudson; her two “adopted” daughters, close family friends Patti Riffle and Karen Montague; and three nephews, Bill, Bob and Alan Jefferson.
Hoenen has left an indelible mark on all their lives, as well as the lives of so many people she met on her life’s journey. A remarkable person, she will long be remembered.
A celebration of her life will be held on Monday, June 10, 2019, with visitation at 2 p.m. and event at 3 p.m., at Parsell Funeral Homes and Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, 16961 Kings Highway, Lewes, Del. Interment will be private. Condolences may be sent online at www.parsellfuneralhomes.com.