Isabell Pendergast Rousseau died peacefully at home on December 3, 2014. She was born to Gladys and Olney Oscar Pendergast in Phoenix on April 28, 1930. They brought her home to a house on the NW corner of 91st Avenue and Camelback Road on 80 acres Olney had inherited from his parents, Isabell and Charles Pendergast, who were pioneers of the West End community. Isabell was always very proud, and rightfully so, of her roots and instilled the work ethic and independent spirit she received from her ancestors in her own children. Sadly, her mother passed away when she was only 2 years old and she lost her father at the age of 11. Her aunt, Lula Marley, raised her in the original Pendergast homestead at the SE corner of 91st Avenue and Camelback.
Lula ran her household and farm with a demanding hand but soft heart, requiring Isabell to rise at 4am to milk the cows before school and complete afterschool chores often till dark. Lula also instilled in Isabell a love for art and culture, providing her with piano lessons where Isabell learned to play her favorite song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Isabell always had a soft spot for her Uncle Ralph and Uncle Clarence, mentioning them to her children often. Together, these siblings graciously watched over their brother’s only child and provided a childhood foundation that led to the life of discipline, culture, and charity that Isabell is remembered for.
After graduation from Glendale High School, Isabell attended the University of Arizona where she joined the Theta sorority and blossomed into a beautiful and intelligent young woman. She always loved the “University” as she called it and all 3 of her sons and 3 of her grandchildren followed in her footsteps. She returned to Glendale High with her newly minted Nutrition degree and began her teaching career. Her children still have people approach them with stories of Miss Pendergast’s enthusiasm for teaching and her students.
When she was 25 she met and married Bill Rousseau. He was a cattleman and farmer in the old Cartwright District and a member of another pioneer family. Soon after, the demands of motherhood, along with building their home and feedlot on 79th Avenue and McDowell, brought an end to her teaching career. She may have stopped teaching, but her passion to better her community, her fellow man, and her own family continued until the day she died. She is remembered for her dedicated service on the Tolleson Union High School Board as well as for her involvement in a number of other charities. She and Bill raised cattle and farmed on McDowell Road from 1958 until 1984 when the I-10 freeway was built through their feed pens and they both retired from the cattle and farming business.
Isabell was renowned as a hostess and instigator of fun, always finding a new reason to celebrate life with their many good friends made in the Tolleson community and farming industry. The couple enjoyed their summers on the coast as well as playing tennis and travelling with their close-knit tennis group. Isabell enjoyed traveling with Bill, while her son Clyde also accompanied her on many international adventures. She was delighted to learn all she could about history and the world around us. She also enjoyed summer trips with her granddaughters. They travelled to Alaska, many places in the US, and England. These adventures made them very close and gave her girls memories of Granny they will treasure for the rest of their lives.
Isabell and Bill continued to share an active social and travel schedule until Bill began to suffer from Alzheimer’s and passed away in Dec. of 2009. Theirs was a marriage between two headstrong and determined people, so the waters weren’t always calm, but the mutual admiration and affinity they had for each other confirmed that they were the loves of each others’ lives. She will be deeply missed by her family and friends as Bill has been, but we can take great comfort in the knowledge that they will now rest with each other for eternity.
Isabell is survived by Will (Leslie), Clyde, David (Diane), as well as her grandchildren Kristin Latham (Aaron), Lindsey Hunt (Brett), Jenna Rousseau, Darby Rousseau, Rankin Rousseau, Ryan Rousseau, and 4 (soon to be 5) great-grandchildren, Isabel, Clara, Amelia, and Stanley. The family wishes to acknowledge Hospice of the Valley for their guidance and comfort to Isabell and her family at the end of her life. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to UMOM or simply help someone in need or who is less fortunate than yourself, that’s what Isabell would have done.
A private internment service will be held with immediate family. Friends and family are invited to share in a celebration of Isabell’s life on Saturday, December 13th at 2pm at the home of Will and Leslie Rousseau. For directions, please contact Will at 602-763-7766 or David at 602-763-7765.Print Obituary & Condolences