Phyllis Russell Cragle (Sign Guestbook)

Phyllis Russell Cragle, woman of faith and beloved grandmother, passed peacefully on Tuesday, February 19, at the age of 89. Born January 1, 1930, she was the first baby born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania that year. Daughter of David Bruce Russell and Evelyn Mae Lutz, from a young age, Phyllis was community oriented.

She graduated from Hatboro High School in 1947 where she was known for her love of horseback riding, photography, and her participation in Glee Club and Orchestra. She maintained her love of music throughout her entire life, regularly attending the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and delighting every holiday season in the Clayton Christmas Concert.

After graduating high school, Phyllis subsequently attended Bard Avon School for Expression and Advanced Business Education and worked towards a secretarial certification while actively competing in fencing competitions.

It was during this time that she met Raymond George Cragle who had taken a position working alongside her father on their farm in Pennsylvania. Phyllis was 18 and Raymond was a WWII veteran recently returned from the Pacific Theatre. One blind date and two years later, they were married on August 5, 1950.

There were few things that Phyllis loved more than her husband Raymond and their family, blessed as they both were with three children, whom they adored. As a couple, their first established home was in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Throughout their lives together, Phyllis and Raymond moved to Blacksburg, Virginia and Urbana, Illinois where Raymond taught agriculture and dairy science. In 1985, they moved to Peshawar, Pakistan where they lived for 4 years. Phyllis took up teaching 3rd and 4th grade at the International School of Peshawar.

After Raymond’s passing in 1989, Phyllis returned to Fountain City, Tennessee to be closer to family. Phyllis devoted her later life to the church serving as a Deacon and Elder in Fountain City Presbyterian Church. Whether in the church or community, Phyllis believed that service was the highest expression of humanity. She particularly enjoyed supporting the missions of Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross.

After years of dedicated service, she was awarded the Clara Barton Volunteer Award from the Red Cross for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership. Phyllis also established a scholarship at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in honor of her late husband Raymond. The Ray Cragle Scholarship is endowed in perpetuity and serves as an expression of Phyllis’s love for and devotion to the people and commitments that made her life so rich.

Phyllis is preceded in death by her husband Raymond Cragle and son Matthew Bruce Cragle. She is survived by her children, Donna Lynne Cragle (Barry Fernandez) and Mark Robert Cragle (Rachael); grandchildren, Danielle Fernandez, Kaitlyn Lawson and Marsha Cragle; and her great-grandson, Raymond Lewis Cragle.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Habitat for Humanity (P.O. Box 27478, Knoxville, TN 37927) or the Second Harvest Food Bank (136 Harvest Lane, Maryville, TN 37801). Services will be held at a later date in early April. Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel is honored to serve the Cragle family and invites you to view and sign the online registry below.




12 guestbook entries for “Phyllis Russell Cragle”:

  1. Linda and Bill Nichols says:

    Donna,Mark and family, all of us Nichols loved Phyllis and admired her. One of a kind. Smart, spunky lady. Love to each of you.

  2. Amy Calhoun says:

    To the family, our family is praying for you during this time. We have as joined families spent time with Mrs. Cragle and she was always a joy to be around, especially her laugh and sense of humor. Know that you are on our minds and in our hearts and prayers. Love the Calhoun’s – Ashley, Amy, Taylor and Ben and the Woods Family – Lawrence and Charlotte

  3. Talulah Johnson says:

    I am blessed to have known her and your family. I love you guys!

  4. Carol Iddins says:

    Dear Donna, Barry, Katie, and Dani,

    Bruce and I are so sorry for your tremendous loss! I wish I’d met her, as she sounds like such a great person. Somehow I feel that I know a little of her through Donna. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all! We’re here for anything that you need.

    Carol and Bruce

  5. Dick Saacke says:

    Our deepest sympathy to the Cragle family and friends. Phyllis and Ray meant much to our Blacksburg/Virginia Tech/Dairy Science and Dairy Industry Family as well as to many of us as simply dear friends. Rest In Peace Phyllis. Love Ann and Dick Saacke

  6. Frank Gwazdauskas says:

    We are truly sorry to hear of Phyliss’ passing. She was a remarkable person.

  7. Elizabeth Notess says:

    Our love and deepest sympathy to the Cragle family in their loss.

    Mark and Liz Notess

  8. Arminta Mack says:

    Donna, I am lifting you and your family up in prayer. I pray the love of God surrounds you during this very difficult time in your life. Cherish the memories and smiles knowing you have spent priceless moments of time with your mother. God is a Comforter and He will keep you.

    My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26.

  9. Amy Starkey says:

    Donna, What a wonderful woman you called Mom! I pray for God’s peace to surround you and your loved ones as you grieve.

    “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

  10. Please accept our deepest sympathy for the loss of your beloved one Mrs.. Cragle
    Jehovah God promised to swallow up death forever and wipe away the tears from all faces Isaiah 25:8 Show us these wonderful promises.
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  11. Eric Abelquist says:


    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. With deepest sympathy,


  12. James Roehm says:

    Sometimes sad news travels slow and I just learned this morning of Phyllis’ death. It was my great honor and pleasure to have know Phyllis and Ray during their time in Champaign, Illinois. I was the new director of the American Red Cross and heavily depended on Phyllis upon relocation. Tragic sudden death of Ray was her greatest test. I am grateful to have travelled to visit her in April, 2011, in Knoxville. May her memory be a Blessing.

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  • Birth: January 1, 1930
  • Death: February 19, 2019