Victor Duzerah Phillips III


Phillips, Victor Duzerah, III.
(age 68), loving husband of Mai Morshidi Phillips; proud father of Anisa (née Phillips) Asakawa and Chiara Phillips; brother of Minta and Stone, passed away peacefully April 11, 2018 in the presence of family in Milwaukee, WI. The cause was pneumonia.

Vic is remembered for his love of family, innate optimism and prolific contributions to ecology and forestry. Vic, aka Duz, was Texas born and raised. Siblings remember their kind big brother as the coiner of nicknames and inventor of rainy day games. Picking sides in sandlot ball, he never failed to select his kid brother first and ensure that opposing pitchers eased up on a batter 5 years younger.

An Eagle Scout, 3-sport scholar-athlete and fan of Elvis, Vic was Hollywood handsome, reaching 6'-2" with sandy blonde hair, golden eyes and winning smile. A family move to Missouri took Vic to Parkway Central High, where football led to First Team All-State honors as a punter and an athletic scholarship to North Texas State University, his mother's alma mater. Although a concussion ended his playing football, Vic graduated NTSU in 1972 with a BS in biology. He returned to St. Louis area to teach science and coach soccer at Parkway West High. He earned his Masters at Washington University and completed his PhD in ecology at the U. of Colorado.

In Boulder he met the love of his life, Mai, an ecology grad student from Malaysia. Married 33 years, they were blessed with two daughters. Anisa and Chiara remember imaginative and fun playtime, cookie baking and essay editing with Dad. They marveled at cartoons he drew and captioned just for them. His creativity, positivity and passions engendered theirs. Raising his girls with Mai in Hawaii, Malaysia and Wisconsin was Vic's greatest joy. The recent birth of grandson, Jun Phillip Asakawa, was, in Vic's words, "as good as it gets."

Vic's career culminated with his founding the Global Environmental Management Education Center (GEM) at U. of Wisconsin, Stevens Point where he served as dean of the College of Natural Resources. Securing more than $10 million in external grants for GEM, he focused on applied research and consulted globally on forestry and permaculture practices to advance resource conservation and sustainability. He was primary or contributing author on more than 170 scientific papers and articles. In 1988 testimony before Congress on Remediation of Global Warming, Vic injected wit into dry science with his twist on a popular advertising jingle: "How do you spell relief? R-E-L-E-A-F." He loved Mother Earth and espoused the necessity to balance development and conservation.

In retirement Vic switched from scientific papers to short story writing to express his life's passions and sense of humor. He designed a home in Costa Rica with Mai and together populated its landscape with favorite flowering permaculture "friends." Vic's memory inspires green living and loving connection amongst us all.

At Vic's request, there will be no public memorial. Donations can be made to Global Giving dnrc at Contributions to benefit Dryland Natural Resource Center,, whose founder, Nicholas Syano, studied under Vic and continues their vital work.

Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch from Apr. 22 to May 21, 2018