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PHILLIP J. WESTRA

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PHILLIP J. WESTRA Obituary
WESTRA, Phillip J. Age 63, died suddenly following a heart attack on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at his home in North Miami Beach, Florida. Phil had many passions in his life, most notably his love of family and friends, his desire to experience diverse cultures throughout the world, his commitment to the service of others, and his love of sailing. Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1948, he was raised in both Detroit, Michigan and Reading, Massachusetts, and graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He then joined the Peace Corps, and journeyed to Togo, in West Africa, where he taught French and English in a remote village. After returning to the States and earning a Masters Degree at Boston University, he taught students with learning disabilities at the Landmark School, worked with troubled youths at the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, and built homes for Habitat for Humanity in Miami. Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Phil shifted his efforts to Haiti, where he supervised the building of over three thousand homes for victims of the earthquake. An avid sailor, Phil sailed with his brother Len down the Mississippi River from Lake Michigan to Key West, crewed on an educational schooner in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean, and participated in a race from Key West to Cuba. He was never happier than when on the water with a stiff wind at this back. Although much too short, his life was fully lived. Phil is survived by his wife, Polly (Keller), his children, Marissa and John Ebanks and Cathryn and Chelsea Westra, his three grandchildren, Jamar, Alec and Cooper, his mother, Rosalyn Westra, his sister, Rosemary Nelson, his brothers, Leonard, James and Steven, and ten nieces and nephews. Phil was predeceased by his father, Leonard, and his brother, David. Services will be held on Monday, June 18, 2012 at 11 am at Bal Harbour Church of the Sea, 501 96th Street, Miami, Florida, and on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 1 pm at the First Baptist Church, 45 Woburn Street, Reading, Massachusetts. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Phil's memory to the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49560, earmarked for their Haitian relief efforts. Well done, my good and faithful servant.

Published in The Boston Globe on June 17, 2012
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