Phyllis Helen Saraf Tabakian McShane

Tributes~Phyllis Helen Saraf Tabakian McShane

Phyllis Helen Saraf Tabakian McShane
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Date of Birth: 
April 1 1929
Date of Death: 
March 30 2023

Phyllis Helen Saraf, the first child of Mary Gannam and George Saraf, was born in Savannah, Georgia on April 1, 1929.

Phyllis attended Sacred Heart Grammar School and St. Vincent's Academy, graduating in 1947. Phyllis was an excellent student and maintained an "A" average throughout her school years. Articles in the Southern Cross (attached below) reporting on contests and scholarships awarded, affirm her writing skills, intelligence and diligence.

Phyllis was awarded a four-year scholarship to Mount St. Agnes College in Baltimore where she planned to major in journalism, but attended only one year, returning home due to family concerns. When she returned home, Phyllis worked for Armour and Company as a comptometer operator in the shipping department processing sales orders for delivery the following morning. After several months, she left that position to work with her soon to be husband, George Tabakian, as the office manager in his candy and wholesale business.

Phyllis married George Tabakian on April 23, 1949, at Sacred Heart Church in Savannah, Georgia. Phyllis and George were married 34 years when he passed away on February 13, 1983, after a long battle with cancer. Together, they had six children: George, Jr., Kathryn, Cynthia, John, Michael and Charles. The family lived in Savannah for many years, relocating to South Carolina in the 1960s and eventually returning to Savannah in the early 1970s.

On July 7, 1988, Phyllis married Henry "Hank" McShane, a widower whom she met at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church where they were both parishioners. Hank and Phyllis lived in South Carolina for many years, eventually returning to the Savannah area. Their marriage of 26 years ended when Hank passed away in 2014.

Phyllis Tabakian McShane died March 30th, 2023, just two days shy of her 94th birthday, at her son's home in Midway, Georgia, surrounded by family and friends.

She is survived by her six children: George Tabakian Jr. (Sancil), Kathy Hall, Cindy Strozier (Bobby), John Tabakian (Lauralee), Michael Tabakian (Cyndy), and Charles Tabakian (Stacy); her siblings Antoine Saraf (Beth), Antoinette Kastensmidt, Mary Ann Fischer, Rose Tootle and Iris Smith (David); her step-children; Jerry McShane (Laura), Sheila McShane, and Allison Edgerton (Jeff); 14 grandchildren, 12 step-grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and countless nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Anne's Catholic Church in Richmond, Georgia on Wednesday, April 5, 2023.

View the wedding of George Tabakian and Phyllis Saraf April 23, 1949.

Click on Photos Below for larger image. Right click to download and save the image to your device:
1. Mary Gannam Saraf holding Phyllis circa 1929
2. Phillip and Phyllis Saraf circa 1931
3. Mary Gannam Saraf with Phyllis and Phillip circa 1931
4. Saraf sisters at Tybee. Top: Phyllis holding Rose, Mary Ann (L), Antoinette (R)
5. Mary Gannam Saraf holding Mary Ann, Phyllis, Antoinette, Phillip circa 1934
6. Phyllis school photo 1938-1939
7. Saraf Family 1939. Back - Phyllis, Phillip, Antoinette. Front: Mary Ann, Mary holding George, George Sr. and Rose
8. Saraf children at Hopkins Street circa 1942: Phillip, Mary Ann, Antoinette, Rose, George, Phyllis, Antoine
9. Tabakian Family at Grandma's Hopkins Street circa 1953 - Phyllis holding Cindy, Kathy, George Sr. and George Jr.
10. Phyllis and George Tabakian with godchild Kim
11. Tabakian Family at Grandma's - Easter 1973. Johnny, Phyllis, George, Kathy, Charles and Michael
12. 1985 Family Reunion at Ft. Screven. Siblings: George, Rose, Iris, Phillip, Mary Ann, Antoine, Phyllis, Antoinette and mother Mary Gannam Saraf Beecher.
13.Siblings: Phyllis, Antoinette, Phillip, Iris, Mary Ann, and Rose in Rose's kitchen on Kent Drive.
14. Phyllis' 80th birthday 2009 with grands
15. Tabakian family photo 2009 Phyllis' 80th birthday
16. Phyllis and Hank McShane 2009 - Phyllis' 80th birthday
17. 2019 Phyllis' 90th birthday with children
18. 2019 Phyllis' 90th birthday with grands
19. 2019 Phyllis' 90th birthday with great grands
20. Remembering George Gannam and December 7, 1941 by Phyllis

Following the photos are articles that were published in the Southern Cross that mention Phyllis as a student at Sacred Heart or St. Vincent's Academy.

21. Southern Cross - Phyllis in play for PTA at Sacred Heart Catholic School
22. Southern Cross - Phyllis wins first prize in the High School group NCCW Essay Contest
23. Southern Cross - Phyllis wins prize "Our Lady of Fatima" contest
24. Southern Cross - Phyllis on Honor Roll SVA
25. Southern Cross - Phyllis graduates SVA
26. Southern Cross - Phyllis wins Elk's Club Scholarship
27. Southern Cross - Tabakian-Saraf wedding

Following these are three documents - writings of Phyllis.

28. Memories of Grandma Annie Abraham Gannam
29. Memories of George A. Saraf
30. Joy of Cooking Lebanese and Armenian Food

Personal Note: My Aunt Phyllis wanted to be a journalist but she did not complete her degree. I hope she knew that she achieved her goal - not reporting on some trivial incident that would be forgotten the next day but reporting on our precious family history by recording her memories and sharing them. Without her patient responses to my many inquiries about our ancestors and the memories she shared, the family history cookbook would not have been special. Her kindness and encouragement in my quest to learn about my ancestors meant so much. Kim

Place of Birth: 
Savannah, Georgia, United States
Place of Death: 
Midway, Georgia, United States
Primary State of Residence: 
Savannah, Georgia, United States

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