Philip Zalesky(1924 - 2013)

On October 18, 2013, Philip Zalesky of Mill Creek, WA passed away peacefully from congestive heart failure at Providence Hospital in Everett. Laura, his beloved wife of 68 years, was at his side. Phil was a kind and loving person, a devoted husband, and a consummate gentleman who accepted people as they were. He was also a loyal friend who was well known for his marvelous sense of humor. Phil was born in Colfax, WA on January 11, 1924. In high school he played basketball and honed his public speaking skills as a member of the debate team. He married the love of his life, Laura Kimball, in 1945. Phil attended and graduated from the University of Washington, training to become a teacher. He was a high school teacher, guiding students through American history, government, and economics for 34 years. After two years teaching in Davenport, WA, Phil came to Everett High School and taught there until he helped open Cascade High School in 1961. Phil was a highly talented teacher who was a greatly respected and influential faculty member, a mentor to many fellow educators. Throughout his career, he was a favorite of students and many young people were inspired by Phil's passion for learning. Besides his wife and teaching, Phil's greatest passion in life was being an advocate for environmental and wilderness protection. Over most of his adult life, he was a tireless champion of preserving wilderness areas for future generations. He clearly understood the power which wilderness and nature have to touch our souls and bring peace and beauty to our lives. Beginning in the early 1950's he joined such environmental leaders as Patrick Goldsworthy, Harvey Manning, and Ira Spring in working to safeguard important areas in both the Cascades and Olympic Mountains. Phil served as an officer and board member of the North Cascades Conservation Council (which played a major role in the creation of North Cascades National Park), as well as Olympic Parks Associates. Phil was also an active member of the Pilchuck Audubon Society. Phil was especially proud of his role in helping to create the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area. In addition, Phil was the primary force behind the founding of the Snohomish County Land Trust, an organization seeking to preserve open space and habitat for wildlife. His efforts on behalf of the environment and especially wilderness areas earned Phil a great respect, as well as recognition. Phil, along with his wife, were the first recipients of the Cascade Land Conservancy's Philip and Laura Zalesky Lifetime Achievement Award. To learn more about Phil's achievements regarding environmental and wilderness protection see the website HistoryLink.org. Phil was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Anna Zalesky; as well as his brothers, Charles and Don Zalesky; and sisters, Ardis Callison, Jenny Curry. Phil is survived by his sister, Doris Decker as well as numerous nieces and nephews. In keeping with his wishes, Phil was cremated, and his ashes will be scattered on Glacier Peak, a very special place for both he and Laura. A celebration of Phil's life will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 7 at Merrill Gardens Retirement Center, Emeritus Senior Living, located in Mill Creek at 14905 Bothell-Everett Highway. In lieu of flowers, donations in Phil's memory may be made to the North Cascades Conservation Council, Olympic Park Associates, and/or Pilchuck Audubon Society. To know Phil Zalesky was to like and often love him. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
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Published in The Herald (Everett) on Nov. 2, 2013