Sunday, January 27, 2008
4:00 PM EST
New Day Community Church
3600 Nichols Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49004
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Carpenter Union Local 525
3617 Gembrit Circle
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Phil Edwards was a man who was always giving, helping, or laughing. He was a remarkable young man with big dreams and an even bigger heart; a man of incredible kindness and generosity. Phil was always putting others first, from his many friends, to his family and fiancée, to simply those who needed help. He was taken too soon, yet his life was truly a gift to all who knew him.
Phil’s story began on a hot summer day in 1983, in the bustling city of Toledo, Ohio. Those were turbulent times around the globe, the pinnacle of the Cold War, when President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire.” On July 11, 1983, Gary Edwards and Beverly Miner Edwards celebrated the birth of a baby boy at Toledo’s Flower Hospital, a son they named Phillip Christopher.
Phillip joined his big sister Kendra in the family’s Toledo home on Lyman. He faced several challenges right from the start, however. Phil was born with an immune deficiency, which caused him to be a very sickly little boy for the first three years of his life. He also suffered from seizures from age 3 to 12. To the amazement of the medical community, he overcame both. It was clear then that Phil was a miracle kid!
When Phil was three, his parents divorced. His mother was working as a graphic designer at Wayne Graphics and eventually opened her own studio in downtown Toledo. Phil’s dad was working in the accounting department at Chem Central, Inc., eventually working in Wyandotte, Michigan at BASF Corporation, where he is still employed.
Despite his health problems as a child, Phil was very much a happy, typical little boy. When he was a toddler, he loved his Maxie doll, which he carried everywhere. He graduated to roller skating, horseback riding, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers and Legos. Much later came Monster trucks and Warhammer figures, which he enjoyed painting by hand. He was always creative, and a hands-on boy. His mom gave him a remote-controlled airplane for his 12th birthday, which he and his dad enjoyed flying together. He also enjoyed playing soccer and sang in his school choir, and boy, did he know how to dance!
As a child, Phillip attended Glendale-Feilbach School in Toledo, where many of his classmates were differently abled children with transplants, heart conditions, cerebral palsy and various learning disorders. At his young age, he brought so much humor and joy to these other kids and barely noticed their differences. He was already building the foundation of his values and this foreshadowed his dreams to help those who are less fortunate than he.
As Phil grew up he enjoyed the tradition of returning to the Miner family cabin in Glen Arbor, Michigan, in the shadow of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Phil grew up very close to his grandparents. Phil’s mom and his sister Kendra taught him to swim, fish, and row a boat in Glen Lake. Every year they went, Phil and his big sis always raced each other down the incredible dunes, looking down on the big blue lake below. They loved to jump waves and look for Petoskey stones and shells with their mom. That was his favorite place on earth, where he formed some of his fondest memories.
In 1997, Phil and his mom moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. He attended Hillside Middle School where he played football, and later Kalamazoo Central High School. He was a very bright young man and sitting though school wasn’t the best fit for him. He later graduated with his GED from Phoenix School in 2002, went to massage therapy school, then realized his hands were best suited to the building trades. There was no limit to Phil’s abilities; he even bought a guitar and taught himself to play. That guitar and his black Ford F-150 pickup truck were two of his most prized possessions.
Over several years, Phil’s dad enjoyed taking him to annual Indy 500 races and watching NASCAR and WWF with him. Phil loved racing, and was a real daredevil at heart. Both Phil and Kendra enjoyed doing go-carts with their dad. Jet skis, roller coasters, paintball, laser tag … he was an adrenaline junkie!
Phil was always good with his hands, and he naturally wanted to become a carpenter. He was finishing his apprenticeship with the Carpenters Union #525, where he was also a union steward. He was beginning to make custom furniture…his true passion.
Phil was a strong young man, six-foot-three and 275 pounds, just like those wrestlers he loved watching on TV as a kid. He was truly gentle though, with an easygoing demeanor and a fantastic sense of humor. He loved comedies, and could recite all his favorite movie lines, along with the one-liners he was so quick with. His sense of humor made him fast friends with everyone he met, and Phil had many, many good friends. Austin, Andrew, and Pat were like brothers to him, and they had so much fun together over the years.
In February of 2007, Phil met the love of his life, a beautiful young woman named Ashley Ewing, while chatting online on MySpace. They got to know each other, and had their first date on February 21, 2007. Finally meeting in person, it was love at first sight for both of them, and they were head-over-heels for each other. They got engaged on July 5, 2007, when Phil proposed on bended knee by the fountain at Water Street Coffee Joint.
Phil and Ashley were a beautiful couple building a very happy home. They loved being together, and Phil would cook them delicious dinners. Ashley enjoyed many stir fry meals and Phil’s favorite was meatloaf with bacon on top. He still had to go to mom for chex mix though.
Phil was a very generous, compassionate man, whose deep faith in the Lord drove him to be charitable throughout his life. Phil’s walk with God began as a young boy at Monroe Street United Methodist Church in Toledo. He later became a member of the Phoenix United Church of Christ youth group in Kalamazoo, where his deep faith continued to grow. Later, he became a very active member of the New Day Community Church, where he donated his time to many remodeling projects. He also dreamed of one day building homes for the homeless, and helping them build better lives. Family members recall a time when he bought dozens of gloves and McDonalds cheeseburgers and traveled throughout downtown Kalamazoo handing them out to homeless people. By giving love he felt love.
“I have always felt a calling from God to help those who are not as fortunate as others,” Phil once wrote. “The Lord loves each and every one of us. Why can't we love each other?”
Everyone loved Phil. It was impossible not to. He had a great love for life, and for sharing that love with everyone around him. He was ever an upbeat, cheerful man, who wore a broad grin on his face every day of his life.
Sadly, Phil died unexpectedly at Bronson Hospital on January 23, 2008 at 12:50 p.m. following an automobile accident in his favorite truck. He had been on his way to journeyman school in Fennville, Michigan. He was 24.
Phil was a man who wanted to make the world a better place and do the Lord’s work. He was taken too soon, but his life was a gift to us, a gift we will love, cherish and remember forever. He will be so greatly missed.
Learn more about Phillip, view his Life Story Film and visit with his family and friends Saturday from 4:00-8:00 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home-Betzler 6080 Stadium Dr Kalamazoo 375-2900. A service to honor his life will be celebrated Sunday 4:00 PM at the New Day Community Church 3600 Nichols Rd, Kalamazoo, Pastor Cameron Wright, officiating. Cremation will follow the service. Members of His family include the love his life and fiancée Ashley Ewing of Kalamazoo; his mother and her partner, Beverly Miner Edwards and Judy Pigg Behrendt of Kalamazoo; his father, Gary (Nina) Edwards of Toledo, OH; his sister, Kendra Edwards of Dayton, OH; grandfather, Robert (Thana) Miner of Toledo, OH; grandmother, Mildred Edwards of Toledo, OH; step-sister, Tracy (Brian) Angell and their son Zachary of Battle Creek, MI; two aunts, three uncles, three cousins and his beloved dog Skipper. Please visit Phillip’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a memory or photo, sign the on line guest book or make a memorial contribution to the Carpenter Union Local #525.