Phyllis Mandell, grandmother, designer and musician

On Sunday, February 6, 2022, Phyllis Mandell died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Williamsville, Vermont surrounded by her children.   She was born Phyllis Olga Colasante, on August 23, 1931, in Brooklyn, New York, to Michael and Pauline Rapar Colasante.   In 1955, she married Joseph Mandell, who remained her partner, until his death in 2019.  Together they had four children.

Phyllis was a highly creative person and had many interests that she was passionate about.  She was a consummate career woman, forging her way as a designer of what would become classic children’s clothing in NYC. Phyllis loved gardening and was an author of two gardening books, “Herbs and Flowers Everlasting” and “Herbs in a Teapot”.  She was also a collector and a lover and patron of the arts and music.    Much to the chagrin of her children, she was an early proponent of organic, chemical free foods.  She was an avid reader, and active in local and state politics - as well as community service.  She doted on her children and grandchildren, enjoyed playing piano, and singing folk tunes with her husband, Joe.

Phyllis was raised in Queens, New York. She graduated from Andrew Jackson High School at age 16 and went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Phyllis got her first job as a clothing designer right out of school.  After graduating, Phyllis moved to Greenwich Village, where she was surrounded by artists, writers, poets and actors, including her first boyfriend, Steve McQueen.

Phyllis met her future husband, Joe while on vacation at Lake Winnipesaukee, in New Hampshire. While both were from New York City, they moved to Vermont after getting married and opened Three Penny Lodge, a ski lodge in South Newfane. In 1960, they sold the lodge, and moved to a new home in Williamsville, Vermont.  While Phyllis commuted between New York and Vermont off and on for several years, the Williamsville property remained her home for the remainder of her life.

Family Information

Phyllis is survived by her children Jonathan (and his wife Karen), Susan, Elisabeth (and her husband Tim), Daniel (and his wife Dolly), her grandchildren, Alo, Ethan and Isaac, and nephews Robert, Sandy and David.