Faculty image Phyllis Mae Ocker Associate Director, Women's Athletics Athletic Department


Phyllis Mae Ocker was born January 17, 1926 and passed peacefully on August 23, 2013 in Ellensburg, Washington

Phyllis was born and raised in Spokane, Washington to Hugh and Grace Ocker.  She excelled in sports and academics, graduating from Lewis and Clark High School then heading off to the University of Washington where she was an active member of athletic programs and Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.

Following graduation from the UW she taught at Snohomish High School for 2 years before moving to Massachusetts where she received a masters degree in Physical Education & Health from Smith College.  After receiving her Masters she taught at Smith College for a year then onto the University of Texas in Austin and Oregon State University.

For many years Phyllis served as counselor and Camp Director at Girl Scout and Campfire summer camps in Oregon, Alaska and upstate New York.  She taught her nieces and many young ladies who attended the camps a deeper understanding and appreciation of the beauty in nature and a love of the outdoors.

In 1961 she moved to Ann arbor, where her career began with the University of Michigan as a physical education professor/coach.  Phyllis was a natural athlete limited by the restrictions of an age when girls were not allowed to play competitive sports.  She became a pioneer and a role model in the field of women’s athletics.  She taught in the Physical Education/Kinesiology Department until she became the Women’s Athletic Director in 1978.  During her tenure Phyllis was instrumental in Title IX implementation at UM and as a member of NCAA.

Phyllis coached Fast-Pitch Softball and Field Hockey.  In 1995 a new field hockey complex was built at the university and named in her honor.  She completed all coursework for her Ph.D. and received her ABD.  Phyllis was President of the Michigan Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation and President’/Chair of the Women’s Athletic Directors for Big Ten universities.

In 1991 Phyllis retired from the University of Michigan as Professor Emeritus, and moved to Ellensburg, Washington.  She quickly became involved with several local committees and organizations and was one of the first women members of Kiwanis in the USA.  She remained an active member of Kiwanis until her passing and was honored by the organization in June of 2012.  Phyllis enjoyed golf, playing cards and games, singing with local groups, and watching sports.  She was an avid reader with a love of history.  Throughout her life Phyllis was a dog lover and supported organizations caring for animals.

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