Phil Zick 1947-2010 RIP

My carpenter who has been working for me for the past 2 years died unexpectedly in his sleep last night. Over the course of the past couple of years, I spent countless hours with him doing work around the house, trying to finish my never ending construction project in Bridgewater, MI. I first met Phil through his son, Kyle, who was a student of mine at Jackson Community College and slowly got to know him through hours and hours of conversation regarding hundreds of topics. Phil was the embodiment of a true selfless and free spirit, who would drop anything whenever I needed him and took on more than his fair share of responsibility for building my house when I was unable to. He worked slowly and not very consistently, but would somehow manage to get my bizarre project rolling along, when most carpenters would have likely walked away. The end result was more than I could have ever asked for. Phil was a great carpenter and truly gave his all to my odd project. I will sorely miss his constant clearing of his throat, his endless supply of methane gas, an electronic version of “Amazing Grace” ringing every five minutes, his disaster of a $250 pickup truck, but what I will miss most of all is his freely given friendship and support. Phil was my honest contact to the real world, separate from academia and degree holding upper  middle class kids of safety and privilege, separate from all the nonsense that I seem to surround myself with. Phil was an honest and real dude, and I will greatly miss him as I would miss any member of my own family.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of Phil, but I do have a picture of my house, which Phil mostly built and managed.

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

6 responses to “Phil Zick 1947-2010 RIP”

  1. Lori lapine Herbin says :

    Phil was my 2nd cousin, I heard of his death and Googled him looking for an obit. notice. This was wonderful to read!! He had spoken to my mother about the log house he was always working on!! We live in Saginaw, MI and were trying to find information as to where to send condolences, my mother is elderly and sadly won’t be able to attend the funeral. Thank you for such a nice memorail of him! You nail it!

  2. Katie and Larry says :

    What a nice way to look at Phil. We knew Phil as a friend that also worked on our house in his own unique way. We met Phil through a local church and he will be missed in the community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time.

  3. Dana shook says :

    I am Phil’s oldest daughter Dana. Thank you for sharing this.

    My Dad was proud of your house and that he was the one you had chosen to do the work.

    Your house gave him purpose. You gave him
    frienship. That friendship was cherished by him. Everytime you are in the house may you be reminded of him.
    again Thank you!!!

  4. Miriam Zick says :

    This is an awesome write up of my father in law. I can just picture it very well. I’ll have to make sure Kyle will read this! He surely was unique in so many ways, and he will be greatly missed.

  5. Kyle Zick says :

    Thank you Pete for this excellent posting about my dad. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. I have worked with my dad for most of my life and every job was more than just business to him; it was about building a relationship with the person putting him to work. We were just talking about how much you have done for him in the past two years. He really appreciated the opportunity you gave him to come to work. Your house was unlike any other job we had to complete. Every job my dad took on, he definitely made the best of it. Your job was different, but like so many others, the end result was a strong built friendship. Thank you Pete for giving me more great memories about my dad Phil.

  6. Pete Larson says :

    Thank you all for these wonderful responses. You are all truly blessed to have had Phil in your family as I feel blessed to have know him. Thank you.

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