Born and raised in Salt Lake City of goodly parents, J. Bennion and Ruth Stohl Summerhays, I had a great life – challenges, tribulations, and all. I passed on the 17th of August 2023, excited to see the great family and friends who went before but will miss for a time those I leave behind.
I grew up in the family wool business, J.W. Summerhays & Sons Company, which most people thought smelled bad. To this day, one of my favorite scents is a dirty old sheep. Airport expansion brought it to an end in 1973, which still makes me sad.
After graduating from East High School, I joined the Utah Army National Guard, and was serving my active-duty time during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I then served a 2 ½ year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bavaria, West Germany.
Upon my return, I re-established my friendship with Claudia Ann Patterson and her family, and soon fell head-over-heels in love. She kind of liked me, and we were married on September 12, 1966, in the Salt Lake Temple. We were blessed with 56 wonderful years together and look forward to an eternal union. Time brought us six bright, challenging children, whom I love deeply: Anne-Marie Summerhays (Michael Kennan), Melissa Hansen (Roger), Sarah Pope (Jason), Samantha Berliss (Jeff), Joshua Summerhays, and Christian Summerhays (Emily), and grandchildren Taisei, Mihi, Ava, Eysten, Quinne, and Finn.
I never met a tool I didn’t like, and they were my friends. I love the feel and smell of a good piece of wood. Three other favorite smells: Hoppe’s gunpowder solvent, fresh caught trout frying in bacon fat, and the Wasatch Mountain Air.
I have a strong testimony of the reality of God and his son, Jesus Christ, and in the great Plan of Happiness for which this world was created. I can’t prove it to you, but in my heart I know it to be true. Please ponder on that… It will bring you great joy.”
From his family: Our loving husband and dad passed away peacefully, have spent his last week surrounded by family and with peace in his heart that his time had come. With dignity, he patiently spent the last years of his life enduring difficult health problems and increasing limitations. His world got smaller, his focus was solely on family and faith. He never complained about his challenges and was quick to look for blessings, which he felt were still abundant in his life. He was bright, intellectually curious, and knowledgeable on so many topics – a jack-of-all-trades and master of many. He loved learning and reading – a book was never far from his hand. Yet he was always modest about his intellect, skills, and accomplishments. Although he became more quiet in his later years, he was a marvelous conversationalist and could enjoy talking with people from just about anywhere, about almost anything. He was a thoughtful, genuinely kind man of great integrity and loyalty. He was a good listener, keen observer, quick to see a need and then do his best to fill it. He loved serving others and looked for opportunities to help. He saw the best in people, was slow to judge, and quick to forgive, which explains the many friendships he enjoyed throughout his life. He was generous to family, friends, and strangers alike. There wasn’t a person he couldn’t turn into a friend; even the grouchiest of folks begrudgingly liked him. Those who only got to know him in his later years may be surprised, but he had a strong mischievous streak, loved a good prank, and had a wonderful sense of humor. We enjoyed his retelling of youthful antics and looked forward to hearing the next great prank in the ongoing, good natured back and forth with coworkers. No one could top him. Several years after his retirement, we learned he was referred to as a “legend” at work for his personality, work ethic, and expertise. He had strong hands, stronger hugs, was always quick to express love and show affection. We feel privileged and grateful to be his family.
A graveside service will be held on Monday, August 21, 2023, at 3:00 in the Murray City Cemetery.
Life Story Info
I worked with Phil for over 20 years at McDonnell Douglas/Boeing in Salt Lake. Very sorry to hear of his passing. Alot of good memories and fun times working with Phil. Never a dull moment. Rest in peace my friend. To the family, may you find peace and comfort in the memories and times spent with him. God Bless all of you.