Remembering Phil Smith

We’re sure going to miss you, Phil. Thanks for a lifetime of doing so much good.
Remembering Phil Smith

Phil Smith was a standup guy.

He was approachable and easy to talk to and always looked you right in the eye. He was curious and super smart and insightful. He was funny and boy, oh boy, it felt good to laugh with Phil.

Even if it had been months since you last saw him, he remembered to ask about your husband’s surgery, about that grandson of yours that he met once, now long ago, or how the garden came in that you mentioned you were planting in the spring of the year.

His generosity extended beyond everyday altruism. For example, when Phil learned we needed to upgrade our PCs at United Way, he arranged for a donation through his employer. “New to us,” fast-running systems with big-screen dual monitors, a luxury we hadn’t anticipated, were delivered by Phil personally. I’m typing on one right now.

He was a valued board member, board chair and investment review panelist dating way back to 2006. He took his role and responsible stewardship seriously.

He kept you on your toes – in fact, he insisted on it. You only came unprepared for a presentation before Phil once. One time. After that, you brought your A+ game. Doing so benefitted the applicant to be sure, but it also spoke to the integrity of United Way’s volunteer process and ultimately, the investment in the communities and people we serve. That’s what mattered to Phil.

As you may know, Phil was also the winner of the top prize this year in the GIVE & WIN Sweepstakes — the Trailblazer. Generosity was such a core part of Phil’s DNA that I wasn’t surprised at all when he told me the only reason he wasn’t selling the vehicle and gifting the money back to UWBR was because his daughter needed a car.

Phil was a favorite among our team, always willing to lend a hand, share some wisdom, or a hearty laugh. In an email exchange dated just March 22 of this year, I asked Phil about his service to United Way and what motivated him.

“It’s people helping people. Either we work together, progress together, live together … or we fail as a society/community,” he wrote.

We’re sure going to miss you, Phil. Thanks for a lifetime of doing so much good.


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