Barbara, John and family,
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I had no idea and feel terrible I didn't know. Please know I will be keeping you in my prayers as you walk through this valley.
Beth & Jim Rozsa
May the God of comfort be with the family and friends during this difficult time.
I grew up in Charlotte next door to Phil. He was a kind, warm-hearted, bright, capable, generous, honest, and hard working man. I can honestly say that I never saw him get worked up or angry. Maybe he was just good at hiding it - which is an intimidating skill in itself. He had an interestingly fearless quality about his personality. Maybe he just figured he could handle what the world threw at him. He was an excellent role model.
Phil could build things, grow things, maintain things, clean up things, repair anything - just plain "git 'er done". And he would without fail relate a good story in the process. Nobody could rake sweet gum tree balls like Phil. He would lend you his tools without question. He could grow a mean vegetable garden. I can still hear him telling me to lime my tomato plants... Phil was comfortable in his coveralls working with the soil, and comfortable in a suit heading off to church or business. I never saw the business side of him but I bet in his work he could convince you to buy what he was selling. Phil went on living like this well beyond the time when many of his peers were in the ground. Everyone was in awe of his ability to get out and do things at an advanced age.
Phil had seen a lot of good country in his business travels and when I was a child he would often bring me something exotic when he returned - sugar cane from the deep south to chew on (good stuff), or a bundle of wheat from the midwest. Decades ago he gave me some fishing rods and reels that I still use. And some very old cane poles that I display on a wall in my home here in Idaho. He gave me a camping lantern. Things that suggest time spent outdoors, which Phil understood was one of the best ways to spend one's time.
Having Phil and his family next door was like having a welcoming second family. I can remember all of us enjoying many an evening on our screen porches, talking and watching the fireflies back in the pre-air conditioned world.
I know that everyone who knew Phil will miss him. I for one will miss the the bone crushing handshakes and gristle squeaking bearhugs.
Uncle Phil, How very, very proud I am to have called you Uncle, you have been such a very special part of my life. I can never remember not having you around. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt you are now receiving your rewards which you so deserve. You are a great man and I will miss you more than I can even think about. I love you forever. Joanne
Mr. Atkins you will be greatly missed.