Eulogy for Phil Scott
June 28, 2021
by John Partridge
Yesterday, I sat down with Phil’s family after Aidan and Dylan’s graduation party and we talked about Phil, about Phil’s Mom and Dad, about his family, and all sorts of things. In the end, I took more notes than we’re likely to have time for, but I need to share as many as I can with you as we remember Phil together today.
First and foremost, there was the “Cast iron skillet incident” in which, early in their marriage, in a relatively new residence, Pat returned home to what she believed to be an empty apartment, went into the kitchen, and stared cooking dinner. Before long she heard a noise, but when she paused cooking long enough to listen more intently, she heard nothing. A short while later, she heard another noise, and this time stopped cooking, armed herself with a fair-sized cast-iron skillet, and began a more earnest search for whatever intruder had broken into their apartment. Suddenly, she met a man coming around a corner of their apartment and began to swing her iron bludgeon of death… and nearly clocked Phil – who had returned home without announcing himself – right in the face.
For decades afterward, and still today, the entire family warns one another about skillet awareness and the potential for death by skillet.
I’m not certain if the skillet incident coincides with Phil’s time in the Navy, but about that same decade, Phil was in the Navy, was stationed at Fall River, Massachusetts, and he and Pat lived under the bridge on the last street in Massachusetts before crossing the river into Newport, Rhode Island. Phil served as a Yeoman on the destroyer, the USS Purdy. There, Phil’s exploits remain somewhat of a mystery because Pat was never allowed to board Phil’s ship. All that is known about his service, is that he was responsible for the ship’s stores, the laundry, and that the ship made a few trips to Guantanamo Naval Base. One skill that Phil may have learned during this period was one that he did not use very often. At some point, Phil learned to bake a really good birthday cake. But he would only do it for Pat, or for one of the grand kids if, for some reason, Pat couldn’t do it.
Phil got out of the Navy just in time for his first child to be born. Unfortunately, Pam decided to show up a month early, and every single piece of their furniture was still in transit when she showed up. Thankfully, their new landlord had mercy on them and allowed them to live in their guest bedroom for a month until the movers showed up with their stuff.
Throughout his life, Phil was a car guy. He painted cars and did body work in Grandma Partridge’s barn, he raced cars for a while, and he always, always, always helped everyone go car shopping.
Phil had a few rough edges, but everybody knew that he was just a big softy in the middle. He earned the nickname, “Grumpy” from his wife, his kids, his grand kids, and even from his doctor’s office. Pat could literally call the doctor’s office, say that “Grumpy needs and appointment” and they knew exactly who they were talking about. But even so, there wasn’t anything that Phil wouldn’t do for Pat, for his girls, and for his entire family. His family said that Phil always went out of his way to always put the needs of his family ahead of his own.
Phil and Pat both got emotional when they found out that Pam and Jen had hearing deficits but both of them went to classes and learned to sign, and even if Pat did better, and Phil didn’t do quite as well, he was always there and was always trying. And Phil was right with them as the girls went through the special hearing-impaired program and did whatever he needed to do. Phil drove to Virginia when Crystal broke her ankle. He washed her hair, cared for her, drove her to and from school, and pushed her, up and down a hilly Mary Washington campus, in her wheelchair, while she recovered. Phil took care of Dylan when he had chicken pox so Jennifer could go to work and when Jennifer was in high school, suffered from ulcerative colitis, Phil would drink her medicine, you know, the stuff that cleans out your insides before they run a camera up your backside, just so that Jennifer would drink hers. It worked. Phil got Jen to take her medicine. The only problem, if you are counting, was that now two of them had now taken this, um, thunder down under colon clearing medicine… and they only had one bathroom. Everyone was laughing when they told me the story, but I’m pretty sure that I really don’t want to know any more details.
Phil was incredibly proud of all his grandchildren. When Tom went out for football, Phil was there, at every single game, practiced with Tom in the yard, and attended every band, or sports, or any other school activity that they were in. Phil went to everything. It was Phil that taught the boys how to brush their teeth, and how to shave, it was Phil who was Aiden’s buddy, got him his own toolbox, and let him follow along, side-by-side, everywhere, as Phil did projects around the house.
And, after a while, some of that help came back to him. When Phil had a stroke, Aiden would bring his homework home, would show Phil all that he had done at school, and would do his homework beside him as Phil worked on his physical and occupational therapy homework. That way they could, periodically, take breaks and check one another’s work. After he was mostly recovered, going to Virginia to help Crystal pushed Phil to do more for himself as he cared for her.
One of the family traditions that we can blame on Phil, is the tradition of playing pranks. Phil seemed to always be up to something. He played pranks on Pat, on his children, and on his grandchildren. And now, they play pranks on each other in his memory, saying, “That one, is from grandpa.”
There’s more, but you get the idea. Of course, Phil’s last wishes for his burial was simply to be cremated and then, he said, “Just throw me with the cat litter in the driveway.” But Jen, and everyone else, told him no. And so, in the end, here we are to say goodbye.
Grumpy or not, if more people could give as much to others as Phil did, the world would be a better place. And it is a better place… because Phil Scott was in it.
Each of you, carry a little of Phil with you into the world, and into the future. I hope that you will remember all the things that Phil did for you, and that you will honor his memory by doing things for others and making the world a better place.
This is a poem that one of Phil’s children asked me to read. It was included shortly after the eulogy (above):
You held my hand
When I was small
You caught me when I fell
You’re the hero of my childhood
And my later years as well
And every time I think of you
My heart still fills with pride
Though I’ll always miss you Dad
I know you’re by my side
In laughter and in sorrow
In sunshine and through rain
I know you’re watching over me
Until we meet again