(Recalled perhaps best for her SWEET PAPRIKA cooking blog.) Phyllis Arlene Kirigin, age 85, of Croton
On Hudson, New York passed away on Saturday, April 23, 2022.
Edward F. Carter Funeral Home
Phyllis Arlene Kirigin of Croton-on-Hudson passed away at the age of 85 on Saturday April 23, 2022. Phyllis was born on November 1, 1936 in Dayton, Ohio, the eldest child of Lucille and Patrick O’Reilly. After attending Iowa State University, Phyllis gradually made her way to The Big Apple where she touched many lives teaching high school English in the public school system for 34 years and organized a College Bound program that helped high school seniors succeed in college.
In New York, she met her husband, Michael Kirigin at a Chinese wedding banquet of a mutual friend, and they went on to share 48 loving years together, raising their two children, Chris and Patti.
While living in Manhattan and later when she moved to Croton-on-Hudson, Phyllis nurtured her great two passions, cooking and theater. In New York, she relentlessly acquired cooking skills, excitedly joining classes taught by the likes of Bert Greene, James Beard, Grace Chu, Diana Kennedy, and Madhur Jaffrey. Her favorite stirring spoon showed its value—and her dedication—by being worn down on one side by the number of delectable soups and sauces she had crafted. Later in life she set down many of her recipes, tips, cocktails, and stories in her blog sweetpaprika.wordpress.com.
Outside the kitchen, Phyllis was a true devotee of the theater. Attending more than 50 Broadway and Off-Broadway productions a year, she could boast seeing most of the great, and not-so-great, productions that have been mounted this side of the Globe Theatre. Phyllis herself was unafraid of an audience. When she was 10 years old, she had the confidence to enter and win a local talent show on her own, performing routines from a popular radio show and winning a baseball and bat. She went on to study theatre in college and performed in summer stock theatre in Vermont. When she retired from teaching, she participated both behind the scenes and on the stage in numerous local community theatres in Westchester, giving memorable performances such as the judge in And Then There Were None, Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit, and Mrs. Wallace in Beyond Therapy. She tried her hand at fiction and playwriting, kept her comic spirit limber through the light-hearted discipline of improv-theater, and even had a stand-up routine that she performed in New York and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Throughout her life Phyllis loved all sorts of word games, from scrabble and crossword puzzles to online games like Wordle and Spelling Bee. She was always excited to find a new person to play with, and enjoyed comparing daily scores with family and friends.
In recent years, Phyllis also took up the brush and taught herself painting, working with watercolors, alcohol ink, and pastels. She had her work shown at several local exhibitions and her art and cards were a feature at local craft fairs. She shared her work with many friends and was especially fond of, and good at, nurturing the joy of creating art in her young grandson.
Phyllis will be missed by many, many people. Her good-humor, optimism, and kindness were ever-present, whether visiting with friends and family, joining games’ nights, or simply painting a scene. Phyllis is survived by her loving husband of 48 years, Michael Kirigin of Croton-on-Hudson, her brother Dennis O’Reilly of Huber Heights, OH; her son, Chris Kirigin of Croton-on-Hudson; and her daughter Patricia Blaine and grandson Griffin of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
There will be a viewing from 4-8pm on Friday, April 29th at Edward F. Carter Funeral Home, 41 Grand Street in Croton. The burial will take place at 10:30am on Saturday, April 30th at Bethel Cemetery, 43 Old Post Road South in Croton.