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Philip Leo Gagnon Sr.(1936 - 2013)

Gagnon Sr, Philip Leo POWAY / SAN DIEGO Phil Gagnon WAS "Friendly Phil." He had friends wherever he went, because he took the time to engage people. Philip Leo Gagnon, Sr. was born September 14, 1936 in Eagle Lake, Maine. The first son of a schoolteacher, he caught his mother's love of learning and life. Raised in a home and a time where hard work was required, he dutifully declined a full scholarship to Notre Dame in order to help his family financially. He graduated from St. Francis College in 1957 at the age of 20. His personality, talent, voice and looks set him on a path to be an on-air personality in the early days of live television, beginning at WLBZ-TV in 1961. The young man went West, living for a short time in Denver and Salt Lake City, finally landing in California in 1966. He worked for a time at two of the four local television stations in Sacramento, then proceeded south down the state, eventually landing in San Diego in the mid-'70s. Along the way he honed his talents for advertising, finally opening TGIF: The Ganyon Idea Factory in 1977. Phil loved the freedom to go to the beach, body surf and write commercials. He loved the wonder of life and brought that into his advertising, engaging humanity through his words and actions. He was known throughout San Diego as "Friendly Phil," which began as a reference to a series of commercials for Friendly TV but remained as a testament to his personality. He never went grocery shopping; he referred to it as "going to see my friends and buy stuff while I'm there!" Phil always asked the name of the server at a restaurant and introduced himself, always engaged a cashier in conversation (whether it was on his regular route or a once-in-a -lifetime interaction) and took the time to pour into others' lives. He mentored many people during the course of his life (with good practice as the oldest of three boys), taking the time to meet, talk and guide. He was willing to stop along his way, with a ready smile, to compliment or comment. "Never take anyone or anything for granted" was his motto. Phil Gagnon was a man of integrity, willing to suffer the cost of being honest. He would tell it like he saw it. If he saw an injustice, he would try to do something about it rather than sit back and complain. On the lighter side, Phil always enjoyed a good pun or turn of phrase. He loved the English language, in addition to speaking French and Spanish, and took great pride in translating Jean Emile Charon's book L'Esprit cet inconnu into the English "The Spirit; That Stranger Inside Us." Phil passed away unexpectedly July 9, 2013. He loved the wonder of life and was intrigued by what was on the other side. He waits there, for a time, before he can be reunited with the love of his life, Maria Probst-Gagnon, with whom he enjoyed the "longest honeymoon" of 34 years. He impacted the lives of his three children (and their spouses): Philip (Donya), Michelle Wilson (Kevin) and Dan; as well as his grand- children, Jourdan, Lauren, Rémy, Jedidiah, Jakob; and those who will come later to learn of his legacy. He is also survived by his younger brothers, Conrad and Tim (Mary); nieces, nephews and cousins, all of whom will never forget him or his crushing, exuberant, love-filled hugs.


Published in U-T San Diego on Dec. 1, 2013
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