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Phil Telford


January 9, 2019

Phil Telford was a very good man. He was born at Shady Cove, Oregon, on Feb. 19, 1938, ascending on the Wings of a Dove on Dec. 16, 2018. He will be missed by so many for the gifts he gave us and for the gifts he helped us find within ourselves. He was a positive person who could always help you find perspective within the chaos. Phil was a mentor to many.

In 1961 Phil began his 40-year career in Granger as a high school teacher as well as teaching Drivers’ Ed and serving as head football coach. In 1974 he moved to Carroll High School in Yakima. On receiving his principal papers, Phil quickly decided administration wasn’t for him; he wanted to be with his students and athletes, a decision that took him back to the classroom. In 1979 Phil changed locations and moved to Stanwood, Washington, taking the position of head football coach and classroom teacher. He took all his athletes to the top of their abilities, winning state status and awards for himself and his teams. He enjoyed coaching track, football, and basketball and had the opportunity to coach some of his children. Phil understood the impact he had on his students and athletes, and he took that responsibility seriously. He always had a lesson of life to teach us that ended with a moral that emphasized what it meant to become the best that we can be. He led by example and marked his success by the achievement of his students and athletes. He inspired you to believe in yourself and your own dreams, and he was with you every step of the way as you tried to reach them. As a result, Phil became one of the most successful football coaches in the Yakima Valley. Today there are many former students and athletes who have woven his principled example into their own lives and been inspired to pass it on.

Phil was passionate about life; he loved his family, but mostly he loved his Norma Lou. Dad and Norma Lou Grow were high-school sweethearts. After going separate ways, they found each other again and married in 2001. When they both retired, they moved to Goldendale to be near his mother and brother. Phil loved Norma and wanted to be with her all the time. He would say, “I will only go if Norma goes.” They traveled all over in their motorhome and took time to fish every spring and summer at Lake Roosevelt on the “Lucky Lou,” their fishing boat, with Gale and Carroll. From Lake Roosevelt to Alaska, the Black Hills of the Dakotas, Little Big Horn, and a family reunion in June of this year, if you saw Phil and Norma, you knew Gale and Carroll were close by. As a history teacher and history buff, Phil always found a way to connect the past to the present on these trips, and he shared the moral lessons that our country should have learned.

Phil and Norma loved to garden and created a beautiful, edible landscape that provided for them all year round. His great grandchildren loved to explore the wondrous backyard and discover the magic his garden created. Phil was a progressive liberal long before that term was created. He thought marijuana should have been legalized in the 60s, he was always for gay rights and same sex marriage, and he couldn’t understand why anyone would be against universal health care. He literally believed all humans were equal. He would challenge anyone who tried to argue otherwise and would back up his beliefs with historical and logical precedence.

Phil grew up with a love for Country Western music. Family reunions were always filled with the sound of guitars, fiddles, and voices singing out loud. For the past twenty years. Phil carried on with that love through karaoke at home and recorded many CDs of his favorite music. You are lucky if you were one of the fortunate few that he gave a copy to.

Phil was an avid lifetime Yankees fan. In September, despite failing health, he went to see the Yankee-Mariners game. GO YANKEES! He and Norma would watch the Yankees play every game during the baseball season, and he would have lively debates with family members who dared to be a Mariner or Mets fan.

Phil Telford was a good man who will be missed by so many. He loved unconditionally. He lifted everyone up whom he came in contact with. He had a special talent at making you feel valued. If your legacy is judged by the positive impact you had on others and the ripple effect that is set in motion for generations, then the spirit of Philip George Telford will always be present

In dad’s final messages: Roger, Gale, and Butch: be tough, stay strong, enjoy life and be happy. To those who loved him unconditionally: he sends you his love, Deanna. I love you to Pamela from Dadela. I love you.

Memorial Services date and time to be determined.


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