Philip Edward Novak
Resident of San Jose
October 30, 1934 - June 11, 2012
After a valiant fight against Pancreatitis with multiple complications for more than five weeks, Philip Edward Novak died peacefully at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, CA on June 11, 2012 with his family and fiance by his side.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 30, 1934; the only child of his parents, Ed and Irene Novak. Ed was the seventh of eight children and the first to be born in America after his family moved from Czechoslovakia. He was a piano salesman for the Cable Piano Company. Irene was the only child of Austrian and German parents. Phil was active in Cub Scouts as a boy, and his first job in 1950 was working with kids at the YMCA. He went to Steinmetz High School in Chicago, where he was on the swim team and editor of the school newspaper.
Phil went to Northwestern University in 1952. He was initiated as a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 1953, and he also belonged to Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. In 1954 he started a Co-op student program at Northwestern, alternating every three months working for Union Carbide Nuclear Company in Oakridge, Tennessee. After receiving his Bachelors Degree in Chemical Engineering, he went on to North Carolina State to receive his Masters in Nuclear Engineering.
He met the first love of his life, Mary Margaret Harrill, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, at a church fellowship group in 1954. They were married August 3, 1957, after she graduated from the University Tennessee with B.S. in Education. They lived in North Carolina until Phil finished his Masters in 1959. They then moved to San Jose, California with Phil's career offer from the General Electric Company. He worked there for the next 38 years.
Phil and Mary Margaret raised two daughters and had five grandchildren. They loved vacations; there was a big vacation every year. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on a cruise with their children and grandchildren.
One of Phil's passions was singing in the choirs at the Campbell United Methodist and Almaden Hills United Methodist churches. He and MM were also counselors for high school youth groups at both churches for eight years. In 1979-80, Phil and Mary Margaret hosted an exchange student, Thorsten. They remained close, and Thorsten flew from Germany to be here in Phil's last days.
Phil also loved trains. He had model trains, and he loved to ride trains. He was "Engineer for a Day," at Roaring Camp Railroad in Felton, CA. Phil also loved camping and hiking.
Mary Margaret died in 2007, and Phil was lucky enough to find a second love in his life. He met Pam Benitez at Almaden Hills United Methodist Church, and they became engaged on Christmas, 2010. Phil and Pam enjoyed many vacations and special times together. Phil considered Pam's family his family.
Phil is survived by his children, Cathy (Bill) and Sharon (Greg), and his five grandchildren Russell, Curtis, Casey, Kelly and Kyle. He is also survived by his fiance Pam and her children, Karen (Max) and Laura (Mitch), nieces Kate and Sarah, and grandsons Nolan and Alden. Phil's wisdom, intellect, love, and sincere interest in others will be missed by all.
A memorial service will be held at Almaden Hills United Methodist Church on Friday, June 22 at 2pm. In memory of Phil, donations may be made to the Joint Youth Ministry or the music program at Almaden Hills United Methodist Church, 1200 Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose, CA 95118.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on June 17, 2012