My Brother Phil…

Just a heads up. This time around my blog post is not about metal detecting or treasure hunting. It’s more important.

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I know I will not write this well, or share all that I should, but I hope it at least tells you a little bit about my brother….

Six months ago I flew to Denver to see my brother Phil who was in an assisted living facility and not doing all that well. Early Friday morning he passed away.

Phil and I, fall 2015

Phil and I, this past September

Phil had been under hospice care of late, and his passing wasn’t really a surprise. Despite that, I shed tears, and wasn’t embarrassed doing so. He was my brother, and I loved him dearly.

Phil was three years older than I, and because we were so close in age, we had a lot in common. Music, in particular.  Back in the fifties, when we were in high school, we started a rock ‘n’ roll band called the Hi-Lites and played at weddings, bar mitzvahs, high school dances, and for those of you old enough to remember, record hops (thanks to Dick Clark).

At a few of the record hops we were on the same bill with “unknowns” Bobby Rydell, Fabian and Danny & the Juniors, all of whom went on to fame and fortune.  The Hi-Lites? We just kept playing weddings, bar mitzvahs, VFW’s and just about anywhere they’d pay us and put up with us.  I can’t remember one time where we didn’t have a helluva lot of fun, or at least start a fight of some sort. Jeezus how I wish I had kept notes.

Phil was able to coax Dick Clark to come to our hometown (Lambertville, N.J.), and put on record hops at the local roller rink, and when he came he always brought along a couple of well-known local entertainers to promote their recordings. After these events were over, my Mom would do her Italian thing and have coffee, pastries and desserts for everyone at the house. It wasn’t unusual to have ten to fifteen people sitting around the dinner table telling jokes and talking music into the wee hours of the morning.

A funny aside….we lived in one side of an old duplex, and to get to the bathroom you had to walk through the bedroom that belonged to my brother and I.  If by chance I hadn’t gone to the record hop, or just decided to turn in early, it wasn’t at all unusual to wake up and say hi to Dick Clark, Little Anthony, or the whole cast of “Dickey Doo and the Don’ts” as they passed by the bottom of my bed.

With my sister Debbie, my Mom, and Phil at Mom's 90th birthday.

With Phil and my sister Debbie, at my Mom’s 90th birthday party…

Later on, and not sure of the exact year (maybe 1957?), Phil took classes at the Columbia School of Broadcasting in Philadelphia, Pa., and was soon working in radio, first in West Virginia, and then later in Philadelphia and Trenton. He was a natural in that he had a very deep, soothing radio voice. A few years later he joined forces with a gentleman named Jim Schulke and a company called Stereo Radio Productions, programming what was called “beautiful music”….or as many called it, “elevator music”.

Phil and Jim Schulke

Phil and Jim Schulke, at Stereo Radio Productions

SRP became very successful and wound up doing the programming for over 80 FM stations in the US.  In 1979 they were purchased by Cox Communications, and Phil moved on, offering his services to others in the radio/TV industry, most recently programming for Music Choice, doing their Singers & Standards, Easy Listening, Big Band and Swing and Showtunes. He was also a consultant and programmer for Jazz Radio in Berlin, Germany.

Whenever Phil and I were together we not only talked music and sports, we talked Lambertville, our home town. “Laerville”, as the locals call it, was a very small community (still is),  filled with a variety of characters, all of whom made the town unique, and offered Phil and I a lot to laugh about… people like “Yipper”, “Bucky Yo”, “Bimmer”,”Booger”, “Rocco” and “Gazink”, just to name a few.  A lot of our conversations started with “Do you remember when…”.

The day before Phil passed away his son Marc, and daughters Kelly and Amy, were with him, retelling a lot of those very same stories, hoping that despite his condition, he was somehow listening.

Maureen & Phil

‘Mo’ & Phil

Phil’s wife Maureen passed away in 2011 from cancer, and many of us in the family think perhaps part of Phil’s decline was the direct result of losing the love of his life.  He also had a stroke of sorts in 2013, and moved to an assisted living situation in Denver, to be near Marc and Kelly.  He did well for a short while, but started declining rapidly about a year ago.

Phil with daughter Amy, daughter Kelly, son-in-law Jack and son Marc, at Kelly's wedding.

Phil with daughters Amy, Kelly, son-in-law Jack and son Marc, at Kelly & Jack’s wedding, Denver, 2013

My one big regret is that Phil and I lived so far apart for the past twenty-five years.  We visited from time to time, talked on the phone, and shared the funnies via email and social media, but the laughs we had in person were impossible to recreate or replace….

Rest in peace Phil, and hi to Mo…. I love you man!

_________________________________

More on Phil’s background…. 

From Beautiful Instrumentals Discussion Group…

From the Popular Music Studies Reader

Dick Carr’s Big Bands, Ballads and Blues

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23 Comments

Filed under Metal Detecting

23 responses to “My Brother Phil…

  1. Angelika

    Dick,
    My condolences. He is listening and I’m sure is very proud of you. Very beautifully put. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Gary Jarnigan

    I am sorry to read about your brother Phil’s death. I enjoyed reading about your relationship with him. It is special to maintain a closeness that will be cherished when only memories are left

  3. I’m sorry for your loss, Dick.

    What a great life, though, and a great tribute to it. I know from personal experience that losing the love of your life can be devastating, although I got away with only a minor heart attack probably because I was younger at the time.

    The quality of a life is so much more important than its span and Phil’s life, as you reveal, was certainly one of quality.

    Best,

    John

  4. wintersen

    Thinking of you at this difficult time, Dick. In many ways that must have been difficult to write, but you did it very well.

  5. Bob K

    Dick sorry for your loss. You will remember all the fun times good & bad. He will always be in your thoughts.

  6. Thanks Bob….there will be no wake, but a celebration of his life back in New Jersey.

  7. My sincere condolences. You wrote well, what must have been a difficult piece to write.
    Mine and Magg’s thoughts are with you.

  8. dennislennon5

    So Sorry Dick, loosing a sibling is always painful .

  9. Steve DeSanto

    So Sad Dick,
    Sorry for your loss…

  10. Linda Bennett

    Hugs and prayers

  11. wendell

    Sorry for your loss. What an interesting and talented family you have. The family resemblance between you and your brother and sister and your mother is amazing. I’m sure he will be missed, but he had a full life and he and Mo are back together again.

  12. Thanks everyone. Trying to share Phil’s story was hard for a lot of reasons. First I wanted to tell you a little more about him, his background, his work and his family, and second I wanted to somehow get across the loss I was feeling. It’s been a tough few months…..

  13. Coin25

    My condolences Dick. Thank you for sharing Phil story, and the I interesting times you both had together.
    I enjoyed the reading it very much.

  14. ted mammele

    Dick , I am very sorry for your loss . Thanks for sharing your story about your brother Phil . God Bless . ted

  15. Mike Rock

    Dick – So sorry to hear this news. I just heard the news from Marc. I worked with Phil at SRP and Studioline. Phil and I became the best of friends over the years. My condolences and prayers go out to all the Stout family

  16. Andy Baines

    Hi Dick,

    So sorry to hear about your loss, keep on remembering the happy times my friend.

    Andy

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