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Florence Rhea McPhail Oliphant

Bryant, AR, 1932 - 2014

Florence Rhea McPhail Oliphant died Monday, May 26, 2014. She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Robert Mathis Oliphant; her children, Arrah Lyn Oliphant Jones (Ronny) of Benton, Alexander Mathis Oliphant (Suzanne) of Memphis, Tennessee and John Marks Oliphant (Sondra) of Bentonville; her seven grandchildren, Caitlin Jones, Amanda Jones, Jessica Bryan, Alanna Oliphant, Michael Oliphant, Allison Oliphant and Carson Oliphant; her brother, Jack McPhail of Monroe, Louisiana as well as multiple nieces and nephews. Flo was preceded in death by her parents, Alexander and Alice McPhail, and her sisters, Jean Durspek, Mary Lindrud and Betty Turner.
Florence was born in Kingsland, Arkansas. Her parents' only "city girl," Flossie completed high school in 1949 at Little Rock Central High School. She continued her studies to become a teacher at Arkansas State Teachers' College in Conway.
Florence, now called Flo, accepted her first teaching post as a first grade teacher in Hughes, Arkansas. Following her sisters' footsteps, she next accepted a teaching position in Seattle, Washington teaching second grade and remedial reading.
Yet home was still in Arkansas. After four years of cross country summer road trips with her sister, nephew and niece in a Pontiac back to Arkansas, Flo took a teaching position in Bryant, Arkansas in 1958. There she and the principal, Robert Oliphant, began to court in the school lunchroom. Flo continued her career in Bryant as a specialist in remedial reading.
Robert and Flo were married in 1960, and they raised their three children in Little Rock as she continued to teach in Bryant until Flo's retirement after 40 years in front of the black board. After retirement, her love of children was still evident as she poured out love to her seven grandchildren.
Flo felt the strong pull of family ties, and attended the Marks family reunion every summer near Kingsland, Arkansas. Throughout her life, Flo enjoyed crafts and hand beaded and sequined work. Every Christmas all of the family enjoy her handiwork in stockings, elaborate tree skirts and a poster sized wall hanging of Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Flo's creativity touched the lives of many, and planning weddings and creating decorative details for parties was her passion. Rice bags (now bubble bags) with handmade ribbon roses were gifts to the brides in her life. Visitation will be 5:30-7 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2014, at Griffin Leggett Forest Hills Funeral Home, with funeral on Friday, at 10 a.m. in the chapel of Griffin Leggett Forest Hills. Burial will follow in Pine Crest Memorial Park.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to a charity of your choice. Please share your messages of love, comfort and support with the family at

Published May 28, 2014

Griffin Leggett Healey & Roth
5800 West 12th Street, Little Rock, AR
Phone: 501-661-9111