Lee Phebus Photo

With heavy hearts, we bid farewell to Lee “ALETHA” Phebus who left this world on March 16, 2022. Lee lived with tenacious spirit and was a friend to all. A generational influence of vaudevillian performers, artisans and builders shaped Lee’s character and approach to living. We love her because she lived that creative personality with pride, and never with regret. Born August 30, 1947, Lois Aletha Garrett was a fourth generation Washingtonian who grew up as the tiny singing star on Irving Street. She was encouraged to share her inherent singing talents from a young age by her mother, Washington D.C. big band singer Ruth Youngs Garrett. Lee impressed the locals as well as Ruth’s crowd on the USO stage as the girl with the woman’s voice, until her parents moved to a small house in the countryside near Sugarloaf Mountain in Clarksburg, Maryland. Known as “Aletha” in high school, she taught herself to play guitar and piano,while continuing to sing throughout her youth, winning Glee Club awards and organizing friends in unbeatable harmonies for the Follies. But was that enough for this Renaissance soul? Of course not! Lee was an ever curious teen, and shadowed her father while he worked in his shop at home. Her father was race car driver and expert machinist John “Reds” Garrett who championed her desire to be the first young lady permitted in Industrial Arts classes at Gaithersburg High School, graduating in 1965. Lee is most known for the service and friendship she shared through her carpentry business, ALETHA. She held a passion for antique restoration and patience for traditional carpentry throughout her life, since those high school shop classes. “Yeah, I’m a girl, so what!...” she would tell her grand-daughters what she told those jealous classmates. Lee revived the term woodwright and honored the meaning soulfully. Although, clients might remember her better as a modern Maye West. So quick-witted with one-liners or a joke just to see you laugh... or groan! Lee had built her identity on woodworking, singing and making music, and making others laugh whenever possible. Her unconditional love carries on in the hearts of her siblings. Lee’s brother, practical joker and junior champion booger-flicker John “Buddy” Garrett, will remember those handmade chocolate covered treats that Lee faithfully delivered for his birthday each year. Her sister and best friend forever, Fritzi Garrett Moyars, is still Lee’s biggest fan. For decades, the sisters performed generational favorites - from The Andrew Sisters to Tina Turner - together with their mother Ruth as the Peach Tree-o on most occasions, (and also by special request as the quirky but lovable Raggity Ann All-Clown Band.) Their angelic harmonies will always be remembered for the joy they brought us. Our memories of Lee turn to her surviving family. Her husband Bob Phebus is a man of few words and a subtle sense of humor that balanced Lee’s personality perfectly. While Lee readily offered so many great stories to the rest of us, they shared a lasting story all their own. They met as teenagers, young and free riding together in his Tempest convertible. Lee held vigil while he served in Vietnam. Bob often worked double time at the Defense Mapping Agency to provide for her and their children. Retired and now pecan farming, Bob will return to Georgia for planting and harvest seasons, to share memories with family who will miss her there too. Lee is survived by three children who continue the rich family history of entertainers, artists and artisans. Jon Phebus is a yoga teacher, healing arts practitioner and lifelong musician. Kelly Phebus is a visual artist, fine arts professional and educator. Rob Phebus, is an eclectic craftsman and expert carpenter who stoically stayed by her to make her late life the best possible. Lee was equally devoted to her three grandchildren which is apparent by their interests. College-bound and otherwise flourishing, Lila, Emmalee and Garrett have a bright future of choices ahead of them - starting life fully supported by their ‘Lulu’ for their aptitudes in singing/songwriting, fiber crafts and auto-mechanics, respectively. Lee’s creative character touched the hearts of all she met, young and old. She will be missed by all who knew her. The family will be hosting a celebration of life in Lee’s honor, details to follow.


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