Mass of Christian Burial
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Kiwanis Pretty Lake Camp
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Life Story / Obituary
There is no doubt that Phil Carey loved his family. A wonderful husband, father, and friend to many, he leaves behind a beautiful example of living life to the fullest and giving selflessly to his community. With many small acts of love and large acts of sacrifice he gave everything to the family he loved. Phil’s genuine personality, wisdom, guidance, and sense of humor will be deeply missed and fondly remembered by all who knew and loved him.
His story begins in the midst of the 1930s when the nation was bouncing back from tough economic times. Soft serve ice cream and the first Toll House chocolate chip cookies were quickly finding popularity. Entertainers like Glenn Miller and Clarke Gable helped people find their smiles again and forget about their worries. Phil’s parents, Joseph and Margaret (Feeney) Carey welcomed his arrival on March 11, 1936, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His birth brought great joy and happiness into the family home.
Phil lived a typical childhood of the times. Reserved and quiet, he didn’t draw attention to himself. His brother normally was the one getting into mischief. Instead, he filled his days with simple pleasures. Phil loved his bicycle and coasting down Westnedge Hill, hoping his brakes would still work at the bottom. Sharing his same characteristics of being patient and quiet, Phil and his dad developed a close relationship during his childhood that continued into his adulthood. Phil was proud to graduate from St. Augustine High School downtown and set off to Western Michigan University in the ROTC and paper technology programs. Studious and ambitious, Phil was later accepted into the University of Michigan’s law school. He thrived in the city of Ann Arbor and football weekends were a time of terrific excitement as the campus would be bustling with activity. Phil fondly remembered listening to a speech by John F. Kennedy while he studied in the law quad during his time there. Easy-going and well-liked, many of his law school buddies remained lifelong friends.
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of his sweetheart, Joan. They were both attending a wedding of a mutual friend. Phil was looking after the matron of honor’s kids and he and Joan hit it off. Phil was drawn to her quick wit and fierce independence. Joan fell for his sweet charm and the twinkle in his eye! He was practicing law in the office of the District Attorney in Grand Rapids at the time and they wasted no time in planning their wedding. Phil and Joan were joined in marriage on October 5, 1968. Joan was the light of his life. They were blessed with two wonderful children: Meghan and Brian. They raised them with a strong foundation of faith, community service, love of learning, travel, and the great outdoors.
Phil enjoyed being involved with Brian in Cub Scouts, cheering him on at cross country meets, and learning more about his passion for art and creative interests as he grew older. He never missed a recital or concert to see Meghan’s talents on the clarinet and enjoyed having the kids give him back scratches by spelling out letters on his back! Phil had a talent for woodworking and while his kids were young, he made toys for them including model boats they played with in the lake at their cottage on Platte Lake and in Lake Michigan. The kids enjoyed many memorable Saturdays at the Knights of Columbus hall where they could roam freely while their dad enjoyed time with friends. Phil was truly proud of the adults his children have become.
Phil was always supportive and very easy to talk with. He treated Meghan, Brian, his many nieces and nephews, and the kids of dear friends like they were adults, even at a young age. He often took Meghan and Brian out to breakfast so that he could bond with them before school. Phil enjoyed taking walks with his kids and sharing his love of nature. There was never a dull moment when he was around. He’d offer ice cream for breakfast at times or take them and their friends for a ride in the back of his Model A Ford pickup. Occasionally he even stopped for hitchhikers, teaching his kids not to judge others and to give everyone a chance.
Phil practiced law in many areas, but spent a large portion of his time as the general counsel at Kellogg Community College. He later extended his career working with the Family Division of the 9th Judicial Circuit Court where he found great pleasure in serving the community before he retired. He and Joan shared many travel adventures together, including a memorable trip to Ireland with their close friends. During this trip they were able to visit the town where Phil’s family originated. He was in awe of the vast and stunning beauty of Ireland and its wondrous landscape. They savored a tour of Italy, taking in all of the historical sites, enjoying the incredible artwork, and gaining some new, dear friends. He and Joan also fell in love with the pacific northwest and Yosemite National Park. Whenever they had the chance, they would explore a new area of the United States or take a drive up north in their beautiful home state of Michigan.
Phil truly enjoyed experiencing new things and lived his life to the fullest. He had his pilot’s license, and in 1967 took glider flying lessons in Elmira, NY with a good friend. He loved music, especially jazz and symphonies like the Boston Pops. He and Joan enjoyed many Kalamazoo Symphony concerts downtown at Bronson Park, listening from the comfort of a lawn chair or picnic blanket. He gave freely of his time, volunteering for several organizations including the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, Constance Brown Hearing Center, and the former Voluntary Action Center being particularly close to his heart. He also found good friends in the Men’s Group at St. Thomas More and enjoyed participating in various parish activities.
Phil had a quiet way about life and a knack for making those around him feel special. He seemed to know just when a gentle nudge in the right direction or a few words of wisdom were needed most. May his loved ones and friends always look back fondly on the rich collection of memories he leaves behind and never doubt the immense love he held for each of them.
Philip Roderick Carey, age 84, of Kalamazoo, MI, died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, on February 5, 2021. Phil was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Thomas Carey. Surviving are his wife, Joan; 2 children: Meghan Carey and Brian Carey; his sister-in-law: Mary Ann Carey; and many nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. A Life Story gathering for family and friends will be held 4-7 PM Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 11 AM Wednesday, February 10, 2021, at St. Thomas More Parish, 421 Monroe St., Kalamazoo. Visit Phil’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Kiwanis Pretty Lake Camp, Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, or St. Thomas More Parish.