Two days before my Dad died a guy called up looking for him to do some freelance jewelry design. “Phil’s sick? I’m so sorry to hear that. He was the best.”
He grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire, in the Depression, the middle of three brothers. Their mother had gone to school to become a nutritionist, their father was on the cutting edge of communications technology– the radio. All three boys loved science, and my father could build or fix anything.
His little town school did not prepare him to succeed at MIT, so as a second choice he went to RISD. His parents had broken up, and even at this age he helped support his mother. Some of his classmates were creating the beatnik scene, but this wasn’t his thing. His artistic style of care and precision was not in sync with the times. He liked Norman Rockwell more than Jackson Pollock.
After school he was drafted into the army, but was able to serve in the US due to my arrival. He and my mother spent two years in Tacoma, Washington.
When they came back to Rhode Island he got a job as a jewelry designer for Anson, Incorporated. He worked late, he worked Saturdays, he supported seven rowdy children and we never lacked for anything. I had a job at TD Brown photo, and one of the women I worked with had been a factory worker at Anson. “Your father was so nice, everyone liked him”, she told me.
In his final months there was nothing left but that kindness. The doctors and nurses at the VA called just to see how he was doing. The nurses went beyond professional concern and just plain liked him. I had some good time with him, for which I’ll always be grateful.
He will be remembered every day. He raised us well.