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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

End of an Era: Community Mourns the Loss of Philanthropist Philly Dake

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Local philanthropist and community leader Phyllis “Philly” Edmunds Dake passed away in her home Wednesday, May 30, from complications of Huntington’s disease.


The matriarch of the prominent Dake family, Phyllis was the executive vice president of what is now the Stewart’s Shops Corp. in Saratoga Springs, and was the creator of the shop’s now famous “Make Your Own Sundae” in 1948.

With a visible role in virtually every sector of Saratoga Springs, Phyllis’ positive influence in the community was staggering.

“She taught us a lot of things, from how to serve ice cream to how to serve our communities,” said Stewart’s spokesman Tom Mailey.

One of Phyllis’ shining contributions to the arts, and the Saratoga community, can be found in the form of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC).

In 1962, Phyllis and her late husband, Charlie, co-hosted a party to gauge local interest in the idea of building an arts center in the expansive Saratoga Spa State Park, and to this day, through their foundation, provide the center with corporate sponsorship.

In addition to financial support, Phyllis volunteered with the SPAC Action Council since 1967, an organization that provides assistance with public relations and puts on several of SPAC’s fundraising events.

“Philly Dake was a founding member and past president of the SPAC Action Council,” said fellow council member Melissa Zieker. “She blazed the trail for those of us who humbly follow in her footsteps. She provided the forum and opportunity for future generations to become involved in many organizations in our community, including SPAC and the Action Council.”

In appreciation of her work with SPAC, Phyllis was honored in 2011 with a marble star in the theater walkway.

“Philly set an amazing example and her loss to our community is tragic,” said Zieker. “There is no one who can fill the void left by her.” 

While Phyllis can no longer physically serve this community, she has left a wide arrange of resources for those left behind to take advantage of.

Founded in 2002, Phyllis and her husband’s foundation, The Philly and Charlie Dake Foundation, will continue to benefit community organizations like SPAC, the Saratoga County YMCA, Skidmore College, Saratoga Hospital, Saratoga Foundation, and many, many more.

Additionally, Phyllis will continue to help the children of Stewart’s employees receive a college education through her “Make Your Own Scholarship” program. To date, the program has funded $2 million to 211 students, and it will continue to provide kids with educational resources.

A memorial service to honor Phyllis will be held at Bethesda Episcopal Church in Saratoga Springs Friday, June 8 at 3 p.m. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to one of the many charities Philly supported including: SPAC, Skidmore College, the Girl Scouts, Siena College, Cornell University, Albany Medical Center, WMHT, Saratoga YMCA and Saratoga Hospital.

Arrangements are under the direction of the William J. Burke & Sons/Bussing & Cunniff Funeral Homes, 628 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs (518) 584-5373.

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