Services for 'Bitsie' Root, former head of Phillips Brooks School


Memorial services will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 21, in the amphitheater of the Phillips Brooks School, 2245 Avy Ave. in Menlo Park, for Elizabeth "Bitsie" Root, who died May 26. She was 81.

A key figure in the founding of Phillips Brooks School in 1978, Ms. Root was head of school from 1982 until retiring in 1997. According to a statement from Phillips Brooks School, "Bitsie touched and influenced many lives over the years. She left an incredible mark on the culture of PBS and left a legacy of educational excellence that will be honored by generations to come."

Born Dec. 19, 1932, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Ms. Root attended Froebel Academy, and then the Berkeley Institute (now known as the Berkeley-Carroll School).

After graduating from Connecticut College, where she majored in early childhood development, she started her career with a teaching job in Englewood, New Jersey.

When Ms. Root visited her sister, who had moved to the Bay Area, she liked the area so much she decided to move here as well. Interested in starting a school, she joined Trinity Parish School, which opened in Menlo Park in 1961. Ms. Root later taught first grade at Phillips Brooks from 1978 to 1982.

During Ms. Root's tenure as head of Phillips Brooks, the school grew to more than 200 students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. She oversaw the school's expansion into two sections per grade.

She believed in teaching moral and social values as well as academics. "When we teach responsibility, caring and sharing, children come away with the understanding that we are on earth not just to serve ourselves, but to serve others," she said.

After retiring, Ms. Root served on the boards of Castilleja School, the International School of the Peninsula, and the Charles Armstrong School. She also served on the boards of the California Association of Independent Schools and the National Association of Independent Schools.

In 2010, she received the Outstanding Educator Award from the Morrissey-Compton Education Center.

Ms. Root married William "Bill" Epperly in 2009. The couple met while walking in their West Menlo Park neighborhood. They soon found they had many mutual interests, including classical music, opera, books, bridge and travel.

They enjoyed their retirement until about two month's before Ms. Root's death. She fell during one of their walks, and subsequent complications overwhelmed her. She died on Memorial Day.

She is survived by her husband William Epperly; sister Patricia Fouquet; brother Stephen Root; nieces Julie Fouquet, Lisa Root and Amy South; nephews David Fouquet and Michael Root; and extended family.

Memorials may be made to the Elizabeth Root Endowment Fund for Tuition Assistance at Phillips Brooks; for information, call 650-854-4545, ext. 113.

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