Phyllis Stancill Pruden

Phyllis Stancill Pruden

Suffolk, VA
11.26.1922 - 12.06.2018

Phyllis Harrill Stancill Pruden, a 50-year Suffolk resident, retired elementary school teacher and mother of five, died Dec. 6 in Chesapeake. She was 96 and had lived a full and blessed life.

She is the widow of Peter DeWitt Pruden, Jr., her second husband, who was a well-known ham producer in Suffolk. They married in 1999. Before his death in 2005, the couple established a network of college scholarships and generously supported churches and hospitals.

She was married to Godfrey Wells Stancill, the editor and publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald, for 50 years until he died in 1995.

Mrs. Pruden was an avid bridge player and traveler, but her heart and energy were lavished on her five children and six grandchildren.

She often said her life’s greatest accomplishment was “raising five good children” and kept her son and four daughters close with frequent calls and visits. She also took pride in her independence and lived by herself in her Suffolk home until a fall last spring.

Mrs. Pruden was the daughter of the late Carral Long Harrill and Roy Reid Harrill. A native of Rutherfordton, N.C., she moved to Elizabethton, Tenn. as a child.

She graduated from Sullins College in Bristol, Va., before transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated. There, she met Stancill, a U.S. Navy officer, and they married in February 1945 before his departure for World War II in the Pacific.

When he returned, the couple lived in Elizabethton, where Stancill entered the newspaper business. She was an ardent supporter of the local newspapers that Stancill led in Suffolk and Radford, Va. An English major with a penchant for penmanship and grammar, she sometimes wrote wedding announcements for the papers.

For 25 years, Mrs. Pruden was a dedicated teacher in the Suffolk Public Schools, at Andrew J. Brown Elementary, Thomas Jefferson and Elephant’s Fork Elementary. She was was delighted to run into former students from the Suffolk area, and was proud of their accomplishments.

She was a longtime member of Main Street United Methodist Church, the Constantia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Riverview Garden Club and the Tuesday Afternoon Book Club. She had served on the board of the Genieve Shelter, an organization devoted to domestic violence prevention.

She is survived by daughter Diane Hall and husband, R.C. Hall of Richmond; daughter Nancy Stancill and husband Len Norman of Charlotte, N.C.; daughter Melinda Poe and husband Lee Poe of Smithfield, Va.; daughter Jane Stancill of Durham, N.C.; and son Steve Stancill and wife Tanita Stancill of Copper Hill, Va. She was so proud of her grandchildren: David Hall and wife Abby Thorne-Lyman of Berkeley, Calif; Steven Hall of Fishers, Ind.; Jeffrey Norman and wife Beth Cheever of Lake Ariel, Pa.; Andrew Stancill of Charlotte; Ella Stancill and husband Derrick Zhang of Bethesda, Md.; and Wells Lawrence of Durham. She had four great-grandchildren: Bailey Hall and Benjamin Hall of Berkeley, Calif.; Everett Hall of Fishers, Ind.; and Maya Norman of Lake Ariel, Pa.

Mrs. Pruden is also survived by her sister, Carolyn Testerman of Rogersville, Tenn., a niece and three nephews. She was predeceased by her brother, Frank Harrill.

A service to celebrate her life will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 5, 2019 at Main Street United Methodist Church, followed by a reception at the church atrium. The family is being assisted by R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory. Condolences may be registered online at

Memorial donations can be made to Main Street United Methodist Church or the Genieve Shelter. 



My sincere condolences goes out to the family during this difficult time. May you find a measure of comfort in God's promise at Revelation 21:3,4 where we look forward to a time when there will be no more pain and death any more.


Dear Diane, Nancy, Melinda, Jane and Steve,
I knew your mother for a short two months but I am blessed to have met all of you during that time. She shared much of her life in fond memories. There was never a day that she failed to mention each one of you in love. May God hold you near and comfort you during this time of mourning. Your mother truly got to go home for Christmas. You are in my prayers.
Lovingly, Norma Riggs

Norma Riggs

Dear Diane and family,
What a wonderful life your mother experienced. However, it is never easy to say goodbye to our mothers. Please know that I send my sincere condolences to you, Diane, especially. May the love of friends and family bring you comfort and the love of God grant you peace.

Brenda Trott

The Women of Sullins College send our love and condolences to you all.

Judy Brady Witherspoon, Class of 1970
Sullins College Alumnae Liaison

Judy Brady Witherspoon

JANE, I would happen to see your mom sometimes in a store & she would enjoy sharing news of her family. Didn't realize her age. It's never easy to lose your mom though. Would love to see you when you come to town.

Dorothy Cooper

Dear Jane and family,
A few day's ago I asked Norma had she heard how Mrs. Pruden was doing. It is sad to hear of her passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this very difficult time. It was a honor to assist Mrs.Pruden in her time of need. May you all find peace in knowing she adored you all and is now resting.

With Deepest Sympathy,

Tammy Coker

Ella and Derrick,
Sending our thoughts and prayers to you and your whole family during this difficult time.
Cyndi and Carl Wright

Cynthia Wright

To the Pruden family and friends please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of your loved one Phyllis. Very soon Jesus Christ will resurrect the loved ones we have lost in death back to life Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29, right here on a brand new Paradise Earth no more sickness pain or death Life without end Revelation 21:1-5.

Sacramenta Landrum

To the Pruden Family,
On behalf of the City Treasurer's Office, I want to extend to you our sincerest sympathy on the loss of Phyllis. Ours thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time.
Ronald H. Williams, City Treasurer and Office Staff

Ronald H. Williams

To the Stancill Family: Although I never met all of you, I felt I knew you all well. Phyliss and I had many long talks on our rides to and from DAR meetings and also with her help on my committee judging the DAR History Essays for several years (she enjoyed that especially as a retired English teacher grading those papers). She was absolutely dedicated to her children and grandchildren and seemed able to keep up with all of them even though spread for coast to coast and across the "pond" it seemed. Her home was filled with many, many family pictures (seemed like they were everywhere!) She loved to talk about you all and the many stories of her life which were really very interesting. Even though she didn't drive, she was always resourceful and never at a loss for accomplishing what she needed to get done. She was a sweet, friendly and always interesting lady and I will miss her.


Many fond memories of “ Bridge Club” during the Radford years.. that and other events with my parents and other friends in the good ole days! Godfrey Stancill kept us all informed as publisher of the News Journal and Phyllis added her talents behind the scenes as the family grew larger.
Phyliss’s greatest legacy was her generosity when she and Peter Pruden endowed many colleges and universities and some hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina.

Robert Haas

Robert Haas

Phyllis and I served together on the art league board. This was about the time she started going out with DeWitt. She was so cute when she talked about him-it gave us joy! She will be missed.

Dana Adams

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