Phyllis was born in Gary, Indiana on June 10, 1927 to mother, Katherine McGranahan and father, Richard Downward. As an only child, she was the apple of her father’s eye. In 1943, she graduated at the age of 15 from Eastern High School. She attended only one semester at Indiana University, becoming too homesick to stay. The Downward family then moved to Dallas, Texas. After a short period of work with the FBI as a fingerprint specialist (the FBI was not aware of young Phyllis’s age) she enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin.
In a twist of fate, it was here where she was seated alphabetically next to James (“Jim”) Dozier. And, while initially interested in the handsome young man on the far side of Jim, Phyllis eventually realized that it was Jim who intrigued her and challenged her intellectually. Phyllis knew this man was going places politically and she wanted to go with him. They were married Jan. 30, 1948. Jim was also thrilled that he had found someone that could and would debate him on just about any topic. Phyllis was not permitted to attend commencement because she was eight-months pregnant. Her eldest son (Jan Hall) arrived in 1949, and then the fraternal twins (Kelly Jane and Richard Claibourne “Clay”) appeared in 1951.
After marriage and motherhood for so many years, her desire to develop her own career took hold. In 1964, Phyllis became the secretary for St. Thomas Episcopal Church for three years and the part-time director of the Brazos Valley Arts Council. In 1968, she found her true calling as a writer for the Bryan Eagle, being quickly promoted to Society Editor in 1969. During her time at the paper she earned three Associated Press Awards. She was courted away from the paper in 1974 to host Town Talk, a local-interest television show for KBTX. She remained at the television station keeping her finger on the pulse of Bryan/College Station for eight years.
In 1982, she was asked to serve as the Director of the Brazos Center, a multipurpose county facility where she proudly served for 16 years. She was also over grounds keeping and the Rodeo Pavilion. One of her greatest pleasures at the Center was advocating for the arts. She cites acquiring The Brazos Flower, by artist James Searles -- the first public piece of art in Bryan Texas -- as her crowning achievement. Phyllis retired Dec. 31, 1994.
After retiring she became a serious world traveler, concert goer, and avid birder. If there is one thing her children would agree on, it would be that their mother was always up for any adventure.
Phyllis is predeceased by her parents, Kathryn and Richard Downward; her husband, Jim; and, her sons Jan and Clay. She is survived by her daughters Kelly Dozier and Pat Garrison. She will be laid to rest in a private family funeral as per her wishes.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to one of Phyllis’s life-long devotions -- Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warriors, The Texas Audubon Society.