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Phil and Marge Philbrook

Remembering Phil and Marge


Beverly remembers the Philbrook collegiality and family care. It is another example of our corporateness. We had just returned from Korea and took an interim appointment in the United Methodist Church. Our youngest daughter Julie was in Chicago and needed to be sent to our home base to Salina, Kansas. In order to make the connection, Marge was on her way to the Kansas City House, and she was asked to take Julie to Kansas City to be put on the bus. It always amazed us concerning the care of the Emerging Generation and how they could travel around the world. It took special people that had the vision of what it meant to live as an extended family.


    My story involves the memory of Phil and Marge. I have an idea that there are not many people in the Order that has as long a memory of this couple as Beverly and I do. This was the decade of the 1950’s, Phil was a United Methodist Minister serving at South Haven, KS–there is nothing further in Kansas before crossing the border into Oklahoma. Our paths crossed many times at our Annual Conference meetings. When I was contemplating an internship with OE, I visited in 5th City. What a lovely mess that was–take that statement and face-value, please. Who should I run into but Phil and Marge? From that moment on, they served as an example of what was possible for me to make the decision, for Beverly to accept it, and for our children to take up the Wedge Blade and live the missional life.


    Marge–all of us–and I mean everybody–knew you always had our backs, and I mean all of us. You, your husband, and your family taught us to live “the hell out of life.” What else would we want “out” of our lives, but the hell?  Inner Peace,

              ~~  Bill and Beverly Salmon



Marge Philbrook’s life is complete.

After our Dad died in January a male cardinal appeared on the snow covered branch of a tree out the window.  So we decided he must have been checking on us. Now 20 years later, two cardinals showed up on the branch of the tree outside Marge’s bedroom in Austin on Saturday.  Cardinals mate for life.  The lady cardinal landed first, then her mate.  That was when we knew it was Marge’s time to make her exit.


So Tuesday morning. . . Marge completed her life. We had decided to have a Rite of Passing.  25 people were on the zoom call,.  We had done a similar thing around Dad’s hospital bed.  We shared songs, thanked her for her gifts she had given us, shared prayers. Deana and Kenneth were in Marge’s room so we could all see her and her spirit could hear us. Thank you for joining us to remember and celebrate Marge’s sacred journey with us and with her.  

          ~~   Roy and Elvagene Philbrook, Deana and Kenneth Henry, Paula Philbrook, Larry and Evelyn Philbrook



Everyone here can state in unison Marge’s final statement in any conversation.  (You’re the greatest!) Say it again   . . .  That was Marge’s talk to you and me.

But how did she talk to herself? In the last 20 years of her life, I often heard her say: “I don’t know what to do so I just do what they tell me.”

    • Lela asked Marge to make her a dress. So that’s what Marge did. She got a pattern and the fabric, sat down at her sewing machine and made Lela a dress.

    • I called Marge and asked her to check the Archives about a copy of a 1986 Guild paper. So that’s what she did. She put on her black S.A.S. comfort shoes and padded down to the Archives to find out.

    • Someone somewhere told Marge the menu for a healthy breakfast to eat. So that’s what she ate. She threw it all together — ground turkey, pineapple juice and oats one day, blueberries and eggs the next —  and popped the bowl in the microwave.

When someone says to you, “I don’t know what to do so I just do what they tell me,” you think …. This is a sad person. This is a depressed person. This is a person who’s giving up. I do think the loss of Phil hit Marge hard, and her health issues later on somewhat dulled her spirit. I never really knew to what extent Marge may or may not have been sad or depressed, that remains a mystery to me. But I do know she didn’t give up. Until her physical situation totally put on the breaks, Marge was a count-on in her service. From what I know about Marge in the span of 50 years I knew her, I don’t think that ever changed.


Here I can’t help but think of the company she and Phil started in Baton Rouge. They named it YES. YES stood for Your Extra Staff, but they used the abbreviation. So when Marge answered the phone she piped up, “Yes! Can I help?”  Yes. Can I help. What a way to remember Marge.  Her choice every day to live YES to life and her readiness to help. Her orientation to life — in all its complexity — was simply YES.


Life knocks us down, throws curves our way, we lose things, we lose people, we lose our health. Some day we may lose our capacity to help, to be of service. But, as I’m reflecting about Marge, it occurs to me that if and when that happens — we lose our capacity to help — if we can come to the end of it all and still choose YES, that’s an amazing service and witness in itself. Marge was this.

          ~~ Donna Zeigenhorn



To the Philbrook Tribe, We stand with you all as Marge moves forward on her journey.  I am deeply appreciative of the work she has carried out in her lifetime. Particularly, as I get ready to hold a conference call this morning with members of the Spirit Life Collection.  She has steadfastly been one who loved the collections into being.  My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

           ~~  Jan Sanders and Richard Sims


Dear Friends, What a lovely story of the cardinals. I’m loving how we are able create the stories that feed our souls and memories, and who is to say that they are other than real or true?  And I know this story is real! The stories that hold images and tales of the connection between the humans and the natural world are the best!

I’m grateful that even in the midst of the pandemic, we find pathways to honor the journeys of our lives. At Marge’s age and mine, the final leg of our earthy and earthly lives seem to play our more often. Its the stories we create and the memories we call forth that remind us daily of those precious lives, for they remain present.  There is no where else for their sacred presence to go but HERE, Right?

I remember being with Marge and Leroy years ago in the Dallas House when Our Phase I staff were visiting the Religious Houses to connect with the high school students.  I recall her gracious and solid presence. That has been a long time ago, back in 1981-82.  It was then during our visits that we conceived of opening the Youth House in Kansas City the following year. Thank you for you inviting us (me) into the celebration of a spirit woman who has lived her life to the fullest, keeping colleagues and friends connected and engaged.  I hope to see you and sp many others on June 10th.  With love and hope,

          ~~  Nancy Trask


My eyes are full of tears as I read this and respond.  It is because it is so right to celebrate Marge’s life and passing in this way. It has been a privilege to be around Marge, Ken and Deana and more occasionally others of your family during the past few years as I live in Austin.  All of you have shown full caring love. Marge was always special and never more so than while coming up with off the wall and accurate comments during her dementia. She will be missed.  Grace and Peace.  Love and Light,

           ~~  Mary Hampton


Prayers for Marge & ALL the Philbrook Family as you participate in Marge’s Hospice Journey into the Mystery. Hugs to you Marge and keep asking those very pointed questions you love to ask anyone & everyone. Plus being the fastest typist I have ever known. Thanks Marge for your dedication to the Archives and Vision for seeing its need to be there for sharing our collective wisdom. Grace & Peace,
~~  Wanda & George Holcombe


We celebrate the passing of a life lived so well. Vale, dear Marge.  You were loved by all.

          ~~  Isobel and  Jim Bishop


Marge, the giant of the Archives! We so enjoyed working with her on the project in Chicago over the past several years. She is always such a delight. She asks deceptively difficult questions. I caught myself thinking many times that the answer to her question was obvious, only to realize as I tried to think of an answer that it was far from it! Go well, Marge. We will not soon forget you.

          ~~ Pat and Doug Druckenmiller


Tell Marge she’s the greatest. That’s been her mantra since the days on McKinney Street in Dallas, and she’s certainly manifested it. Grace and peace dear Marge.

          ~~  Ann and John Epps


So grateful to have known a real ‘Grandma Angel’ who touched down on earth and radiated genuine caring, compassion, grace, and good humor toward all she encountered. To colleagues and Philbrook family we will continue to be blessed by Marge’s presence in her joyfilled memories. Kindfully yours,

          ~~  Dawn Collins


Marge! One of my favorite “characters”.  I think my first work in the archives, on the 6th floor of “Kemper” was in August 2011. The day often began with breakfast with Marge, Paul Noah, Frank Knutson and myself. Marge would tell priceless “Marge Stories” and there were a lot of them! My very favorite Marge Story…

“Joe Mathews assigned Marge to manage the print shop during a summer program. According to Marge, she told Joe she would do it only…if there were guys assigned to work in the print shop who did not have to go back to their wives “early”, meaning they could stay up all night. The first thing Marge did was to go to the Sears store on Lawrence and get 2 blue dresses. At the end of her day/night work she would go upstairs and take a shower, in her blue dress, and hang it up to dry. Next day she would wear the other blue dress to the print shop….repeat… all summer.

And, in “those days” Marge knew where everything was in the archives and was able to keep track of huge amounts of information and where it was. “Hey Marge, do you know where we can find…?”  Marge, Rosemary Albright and Sally Fenton were the three marvels overseeing the archives when I arrived on the scene. What a crew!

          ~~  Beret Griffith and Paul Noah


Marge served her life with vigor and dedication.  I really enjoyed the time that I spent as her immediate neighbor in the GreenRise Intentional Community and working with her on the EI/OE/ICA Archives.  From all the stories I heard about her life, Marge was a tour de force with whatever project she was involved.  I appreciated her practical approach and her humor.   Definitely a life well worth lived.

          ~~ Steve Ediger


Thank you for sharing with the community Marge’s current journey. Marge is a real Spirit giant. She was one I looked forward to going to Chicago for ICA Board meetings. Her welcoming smiles and life lessons here and there. One such lesson was something about EFT (can’t remember what the letters stood for now) that she used to take care of aches and pains. She tried it on me and, well, it worked!

Sending my love and prayers for her next journey and comforting embrace to all of Philbrook family.

          ~~ Elsa Batica


Dear Philbrooks, You have an incredible family filled with passionate determined to make a difference people. Your mother, grandmother, mother in law Marge was the light and sparkle at the center. However , I have never known a weak hearted Philbrook so that her spirit and care will still be there for you.

         ~~  Kate Ward


Margie is a dear Spirit who loved us all well and always with a smile and such kindness. Blessings to all the family, With love,
~~ Sunny Walker


I met the Philbrook Clan, through the introduction by George Walters while he was at Union Theological Seminary and I was in grad school at Columbia University.  We went down to Staten Island, perhaps to a church room, and big Leroy had a huge map showing every street, or almost all, of Staten Island.  The whole family was there and the plan was to “DO STATEN ISLAND”.  I was impressed with the boldness of the plan though I wasn’t sure of what “DO” meant. Soon after I took RS-1 and the rest is history.

Later on, when Bob was Area Prior of the Chicago Area — we both visited the Detroit House, in which the Philbrooks were the priors.  They greeted us with a huge meal of steak etc., and the evening was filled with deep discussion and levity  This was another example how whenever the Philbrooks did anything — they poured their whole life into it –  whether the activity was big or small.  This has been the legacy of the Philbrook clan their whole lives.

So, I send my greetings to the Philbrooks as they celebrate Marge’s life completion — a life well lived and long-lived as a servant to humanity.

          ~~ Cynthia Vance