Mother's Day Tribute: Phyllis Flanigan

May 12, 2006 – Posted at 5:39 p.m. CDT

SPECIAL REPORT -- We continue our KAIT Mother's Day tributes today by profiling someone who is a familiar face to Region 8.

Phyllis Flanigan, Heather's mom, used her special relationship with her own mother as a basis for raising her children. Diana Davis had the chance to sit down with her and shares advice on how to handle some of life's toughest lessons.

"My mother was 40 four days before I was born and my dad was 51 and they were just so shocked that I was born. I was the only baby in my family that was delivered in a hospital," said Flanigan.

The youngest of five children, Phyllis Ann was born in 1951 to Austrian immigrants, Saly and Matthew Schiefer.

"I was very, very close to my mother because I was her baby and I had a wonderful relationship, she was a wonderful mother," remembered Flanigan, "And I remember her crying when I went off to the University of Arkansas. She had had children in school for 34 years."

And a lesson was established in the Schiefer family...10 college degrees between four of the five siblings. Phyllis received her masters in home economics and during college met and married Ed Flanigan in 1971. The couple of had the first of their two children, Heather in 1978.

"She weighed six pounds and she didn't have any hair, she didn't have any eyebrows or eyelashes and she was so teeny-tiny, and I thought, "what have we done?" How in the world are we going to raise this little girl?" laughed Flanigan, "We were just so excited!"

But for the new mother, the bond with her daughter was instant.

"Probably the greatest accomplishment that I have ever had was having my children," said Flanigan, "And they've grown up and they've been such good kids. You just go through every phase with them. You think, oh, they'll never walk, they'll never get out of diapers, they'll never go to school and then all those phases, you just go through everything."

Having a supportive relationship and instilling values in her children was one of Flanigan's top priorities...

"To have a good education, to be a good person, to always be independent and able to support yourself. To have good character, you know good morals....don't buy anything unless it is on sale...always look for the best bargains!" laughed Flanigan.

What started as a mother, daughter relationship has developed into a mutual respect and friendship. A Human Development Specialist for the University of Missouri Extension Center, Flanigan also writes a weekly column for the Daily American Republic newspaper in Poplar Bluff ...something that proved influential in heather's decision to work in journalism.

"I see my personality every day. we have very similar personalities. Her dad is very laid back, kind of like her brother and she is very strong willed and very independent," said Flanigan.

And it's an independence that fortunately has matured.

"One time I was changing clothes in K-Mart in Kennett and we had Grandma Flanigan with us and I heard all these people laughing and I was in there trying on a pair of jeans. I looked outside and walked out into the store and Grandma Flanigan was chasing Heather down the aisle! Grandma had on high heels and tight jeans and her face was beet red and Heather had taken off all of her clothes except for her shoes and her socks and for some strange reason and was running down the aisle. She was about 3-years-old and people would look at us about an hour later and still laugh at us, but I'm sure she will not put this in this excerpt....I guarantee she won't use that story," laughed Flanigan.

Next week, the Flanigan Family will be together to watch Heather's brother Jim graduate from Missouri State University with a degree in Criminal Justice and add another college degree to the family legacy.