Services in Oklahoma are planned for late June for Phyllis Jan Roller, 69, of Dunnellon, FL, who died May 30 at AdventHealth, Ocala, FL. A medical social worker, singer, and songwriter, Ms. Roller was born in Pauls Valley, OK, on Aug. 14, 1949, to Henry C. and Catherine (Blackwood) Roller.
She was a graduate of Elmore City, OK, High School; East Central University in Ada, OK, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in physical education, and the University of Tennessee in Nashville, where she earned a master of social work degree.
She worked as a social worker for Indian Health Services in Tishomingo, OK, and Oklahoma City, OK, and for the Veteran’s Administration in Houston, Texas; Marlin, Texas; Tacoma, Washington; Murfreesboro, Tenn; and St. Petersburg, FL, retiring in 2000.
One of her greatest joys was writing and singing songs. Under her stage name, Tia Shawnté, she performed at such venues as the Oklahoma Opry, Bluebird Café in Nashville, and the Palomino Club in Los Angeles, as well as for the troops at Fort Campbell, KY; for the Chickasaw Nation in Tishomingo, OK, and Dallas, Texas; and for an American Cancer Society camp for children near Nashville.
The mayor of Austin, Texas, in 1993 declared Feb. 4 “Tia Shawnté Day,” in honor of her song, “Native Son,” an environmental and Native American plea for justice, while the governor of Tennessee in 1994 issued a proclamation for her work to promote environmental awareness.
Ms. Roller was a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
Her website can be viewed at tiashawnte.com
Some of her family’s and friends’ greatest joys were enjoying Ms. Roller’s wit, compassion for the underdog, generosity, and love of life, despite many medical challenges in her later years.
She is survived by her family members Jenean and Trevin Cooper of Orlando, FL, and Margo Wilson of Dunnellon, FL. Also surviving are brothers Randy (Nanette) of Norman, OK; Jerry of Wayne, OK; sister Beverley Rankin of Blanchard, OK; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her father, mother, brother Clinton, and infant sister.