Phyllis Westerfield Niedfeldt, who provided funds for the construction and maintenance of the dorm which bears her name, died on Oct. 31 at the age of 92.
She supported the men who called Niedfeldt Residence their home since it was built in 1990. According to those who knew her, she frequently thought about “the dorm.” For more than 30 years, she encouraged educational and fraternal activities for the dorm community, such as a yearly class on dining etiquette, which is now known as “NiedFormal.”
Born in St. Louis in 1929, Neidfelt graduated from Winthrow High School and attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. She furthered her education at the Maryland College for Women, after which she studied dance at the New York Ballet School. In 1957, she married L.A. “Red” Niedfeldt, a successful businessman, with whom she lived happily for many years.
She became a member of the Hillsdale College President’s Club, as she was an avid supporter of the college and its mission. Senior and Niedfeldt Head RA Ryan Perkins said in the letters she sent to past Niedfeldt house directors, she seemed like a woman of conviction with an active temperament.
She cared deeply for the residents of the dorm, whom she always addressed as “the fellows,” Perkins said.
The Niedfeldt resident assistant team placed a display case at the entrance of the dorm with some items to remind students of Niedfeldt, including several photos of her past visits to campus. They encourage students to stop by and take time to look at them.
A photo of Phyllis and Red hangs in the Niedfeldt lobby as a dorm relic. Beneath it stands a plaque which summarizes the Niedfeldts’ message to the dorm, which serves as a reminder of the things for which its residents should strive.
“Students who live and study here are asked to preserve the ideals of truth, diligence, service, stewardship, and love,” it says. “Life’s blessings will then be their companion.”