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Published: Thursday, 8/12/2004

Ex-nurse devoted career to children

Phyllis Jean Barrowman, a pediatrics and cystic fibrosis nurse at Toledo Hospital for almost 40 years who often started work in July on Christmas decorations for the children's ward, died Monday in her Sylvania home. She was 72.

Miss Barrowman had been diagnosed about six years ago with dystonia, a muscle tone impairment that took away her ability to walk about 18 months ago, said Robin Jordan, wife of Miss Barrowman's godson and cousin, Martin.

Miss Barrowman, who lived her whole life with her mother, Lois, who is 98, appeared to have chosen a career in nursing because it was her mother's unfulfilled dream, her family said. Lois Barrowman's family had forbid her to become a nurse.

Nursing was the only job Miss Barrowman ever had, her mother said.

She enrolled in Toledo Hospital's former nursing school after graduating from DeVilbiss High School.

Later she went to the University of Toledo for her master's degree in nursing.

Miss Barrowman was devoted to medical work with children, but her mother remembered that she cried - at home - when young patients were about to die. "She loved all of them."

She kept in touch with some of her patients for years.

Mrs. Jordan recalled more tears about a year ago when one of Miss Barrowman's former patients died and she felt her own health was too poor to attend the funeral.

"She had patience. She had empathy," Mrs. Jordan said of Miss Barrowman's decades of work with ill children. "I'm not sure how she did it. I'm not sure I could have done it."

Miss Barrowman was the younger of two children, born to Russell Barrowman, a railroad salesman, and his wife, Lois. Her family was close and she learned many needlework skills from her mother and aunts.

She enjoyed classical music and attended many concerts at the Peristyle and Stranahan theaters. She traveled in Europe and the United States and collected hundreds of Hummel figurines.

Surviving is her mother, Lois.

A graveside service will be at 3 p.m. today in Toledo Memorial Park. Walker Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

The family suggests tributes to the charity of the donor's choice.

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