Charles Phillip "Phill" Thorleifson
February 28, 1928 - May 10, 2016
He Leaves the World a Better Place
Phill Thorleifson of Marysville passed away on May 10, 2016, surrounded by love. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Amy, daughter and son-in-law Sherri and Kevin Parsons of Henderson, Nevada, daughter Tracy Thorleifson of Lake Forest Park, four grandchildren, Paul Parsons (Amy), Amy Parsons (Issouf Sani Allo), Tim Parsons (Jamie), and Jonathan Parsons, nine great grandchildren, and many loving nephews and nieces. He is also survived by a legacy of public service that touched the lives of thousands of people, including the elementary students he taught for more than 30 years in the Everett School District, the Lions Club members with whom he served and the public that benefitted, and fellow congregants in the Lutheran churches where he worshipped.
Born in Seattle in 1928 to Charles and Anna Thorleifson, Phill was the youngest of six children. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings John Thorleifson, George Thorleifson, Lillian Fulthorp, Grace Wilson, and Sadie Batman. He graduated from Ballard High School and, after a stint in the Navy's Submarine Service, got his teaching degree from Pacific Lutheran University. In the Navy and at PLU, he played football, and began a life-long love of playing golf. While at PLU he met his future wife, Amy, in a First Aid class. They were married in 1952. He later earned his Master's Degree in teaching from Western Washington University. He started his career teaching at Hamlin Park Elementary in Shoreline, but soon moved to the Everett School District. He taught at Lowell Elementary, Monroe Elementary, and finished his career at Woodside Elementary. Over his 32-year career he taught children of all ages, from first through sixth grade, but when pressed he said that he preferred fifth graders.
After retiring from the classroom, Phill continued to work with children, acting for 18 years as caretaker of the Everett School District's Lively Environmental Center, in Mill Creek. He delighted in sharing with visiting schoolchildren the annual release of salmon fry into the stream running through Lively and leading nature walks through Lively's trails. Phill also relished his annual stint at playing Santa, starting almost 30 years ago as a Frederick & Nelson Santa and continuing annually.
Phill actively participated in the Lutheran Church. For years a member of Lynnwood's Trinity Lutheran, he served many terms as Sunday School Superintendent, and was also president of the congregation. After moving to Marysville, he joined the Bethlehem Lutheran congregation where he was most recently active on the Endowment Committee.
A long-time member of the Lions Club, Phill started in the Edmonds Lions Club, where he chaired a project developing what is now the Sierra Park for the Blind. He helped organize and was a founding member of the Mill Creek Lions, and later joined the Marysville Lions. He was also a "Guiding Lion" for the Tulalip Lions Club. He served in many leadership positions with the Lions, including District Governor. He was particularly active with Lions projects aimed at helping low-income people with vision and hearing issues, most recently serving as a Director of the Lions Snohomish County Sight and Hearing Foundation.
Phill kept busy in retirement, volunteering with the Lions and at church, golfing, fishing, and travelling. He enjoyed wood-working, making outdoor furniture for friends and family, and donating handcrafted items to charity. He was a lifelong baseball fan, following the Rainiers and later the Mariners. He faithfully watched televised games or listened to the radio broadcasts, enjoyed going to Spring Training, and attending Mariners games in person. Every game he attended included a bowl of Ivar's clam chowder, according to him the best chowder ever made.
Phill was especially proud of his Icelandic heritage. He and his older brother, George, traveled to Iceland once, where they unexpectedly connected with relatives who had stayed in Iceland after his father emigrated. That trip was just one of many. Phill loved travelling, going on many cruises in Europe, the Caribbean, and to Alaska, participating in Elder Hostels from Nova Scotia to Georgia to Arizona, and visiting Hawaii during many dark and wet Washington winters.
Such a partial recitation of Phill's activities and accomplishments fails to capture the generous, optimistic, and principled spirit that brightened the many lives he touched. A role model and mentor to many, a leader, a teacher, a ready volunteer who acted on his strong belief in the importance of helping others in his community, a gregarious friend who seldom met a stranger without striking up a conversation, a loving and supportive family man who was fiercely proud of the successes of his wife, children, and relatives, he leaves the world a better place.
A celebration of Phill's life will be held on May 21, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 7215 51st Ave NE, Marysville WA 98270
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be directed to one of the nonprofits that Phill actively supported with both his time and his money.
Snohomish County Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation, Dedicated to providing low-income residents of Snohomish County with access to hearing aids and vision care. Donations may be sent to: Snohomish County Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation c/o Doug Houghton 9524 21st Dr SE Everett, WA 98208-3815
Bethlehem Lutheran Endowment Fund, Providing annual support to seminary students and to local, national, and global charities. Donations may be sent to: Bethlehem Lutheran Church Endowment Fund 7215 51st Ave NE Marysville WA 98270 http://blcmarysville.com
Do Not Weep
Do not stand by my grave and weep I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awake in the morning's hush
I am the swift upflinging rush,
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night,
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there, I did not die.
I Corinthians 15:51-55 RSV
Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O death, where is thy victory?
O death where is thy sting?"