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Phoebe J. Samelson

Phoebe J. Samelson Phoebe Samelson, 88, a former academic adviser at Kansas State University and docent at Konza Prairie, died April 21, 2017, at Meadowlark Hills.

Phoebe was born Feb. 28, 1929, in Madison, Wis., to Fred and Edith Jones, both plant pathologists. Her love of nature began with a childhood spent hiking, canoeing, skiing and ice skating with her family.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bates College in Maine and then a master’s degree in nursing from Yale University in 1953.

Her first job was as a public health nurse in Ann Arbor, Mich., where she met Franz Samelson through the University of Michigan outing club. They married in 1955 and spent their honeymoon canoeing at Quetico Provincial Park.

In 1957 they moved to Manhattan, where Franz accepted a position in the KSU Psychology Department. Little did they know they would spend the rest of their lives here.

Phoebe worked as a nurse at Manhattan Junior and Senior High Schools from 1957 to 1962. They had one daughter, Karen, to whom they were devoted.

When Karen started school, Phoebe began working at KSU as an adviser for students who wanted to go into nursing and physical therapy programs. She retired in 1991.

She loved hiking and bird-watching at Konza and was instrumental in starting the docent volunteer program. She also loved to travel, starting with a bicycle trip through Europe in 1949 with friends. In later years she and Franz enjoyed Elderhostel trips, including to Cuba.

Professional activities included serving on the Manhattan-Riley County Board of Health from 1982-’86 and the Kansas State Nurses Association board. She was committed to women’s health issues, especially the Peggy Bowman Second Chance Fund.

Other activities included the Friendship Tutoring Program and Human Relations Council in the 1960s, League of Women Voters, Blue Valley Yacht Club and Manhattan Alliance for Peace & Justice. She was a longtime member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan and was once clerk of the Manhattan Friends Meeting.

After Alzheimer’s began to take its toll, Phoebe moved to Meadowlark’s Lyle House in 2011. The family thanks the caring staff there, especially Sherry Smith and Susan Meeker.

She was preceded in death by Franz in 2015 and by her brothers Francis and Fred. Survivors include her daughter, Karen, of Milwaukee; sisters-in-law Byrnina Jones of Colorado, Elizabeth Jones of Tennessee, and Nancy Samelson of California; and nieces and nephews.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday May 27 at 1:00p.m. at the the Unitarian Fellowship of Manhattan.

Memorial contributions to Konza Environmental Education Program through KSU and the Peggy Bowman Second Chance Fund are suggested. Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.

Online condolences may be left for the family through the funeral home website at

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