Obituaries

John Frederick Phiel, Jr., 82

May 18, 1939 - September 15, 2021

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free.
By Christina Rosetti

On September 15, 2021, John Frederick Phiel, Jr., 82, of Willow Street, shed his earthly mantle and the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease as his soul left the physical world. Jack, as he was known to family and friends, was the son of the late John Frederick Phiel, Sr. and Eleanor Shannaman Phiel. He grew up near West Chester, PA, where he started his education in a two-room school and progressed to a MA in Electrical Engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

John’s stint in the army included time spent in Ethiopia at their newly constructed satellite earth station. This in turn led to a career in satellite communications at Comcast and Intelsat in Washington D.C. He helped implement the initial earth stations around the world and oversaw the development of Intelsat 120 megabit TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) which was considered to be the most advanced transmission used in satellite communications at the time. This system was then extended to work with dynamic on-board switching, making the Intelsite IV the most technically advanced satellite of the 1990’s. As stated by a fellow engineer, “People loved working with Jack. He knew satellite technology inside and out and was respected for his technical competence, and kind and thoughtful interactions with co-workers.” Since retirement didn’t suit him he went to work for Ayden and Viasat for several years. Work and pleasure travel took him to over 51 countries.
Jack reveled in sailing on the Chesapeake Bay near Arnold, MD, where he lived prior to moving to Willow Valley Communities. He loved animals, playing golf with his friends, was a jack-of-all-trades, and enjoyed volunteering with SCORE.

He will be greatly missed by Vesta Harman Phiel, his lucky wife of 53 years, with whom he shared a love of travel and good times. He also leaves behind his brother, Donald Phiel of Oxford, PA, many cousins, and his niece, Jo Baker, who adored him.

Special thanks to the second-floor staff at The Glen at Willow Valley who professionally and tirelessly cared for Jack during his downward spiral. Also, many thanks to Hospice & Community Care for their expert assistance and compassion near the end of his journey.

The Willow Valley Communities future Memory Care Center outdoor courtyard and fountains will be dedicated as a memorial to Jack. A remembrance gathering will be held at a date to be determined.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Jack’s memory may be sent to Hospice & Community Care, 685 Good Drive, P O Box 4125, Lancaster, PA 17604-4125, or to the Memory Care Center Capital Campaign, Willow Valley Communities Charitable Foundation, 100 Willow Valley Lakes Drive, Willow Street, PA 17584.

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Condolences to the Family

October 22, 2021

Dear Vesta,
 
It’s been over 50 years since we have seen each other and I still have such fond memories of you and Jack. The last time I recall was having dinner together in the DC area.  You two were just moving to Maryland.  Gail and I then moved to California in 1973 and we lost touch completely.  I lost Gail to cancer in 2013 so I understand some of the pain you must be going through. May God give you grace and peace during your time of grieving.  I’ve since remarried and retired.  We live in SaddleBrooke, Arizona, a delightful active adult community in the Santa Catalina mountains just north of Tucson.  If you ever want to travel to the Southwest we would love to have you come visit.
 
Jack was a wonderful friend and brother at Alpha Pi Lambda.  Gail and I would double-date with he and a date.  I will always carry this funniest memory.  We were having dinner at a fine Mainline restaurant and Jack excused himself to go to the restroom.  5 minutes goes by, then 10, and finally almost 15 minutes and I get up to check on him.  He is coming back to the table with that grin he would get on his face. “Where were you, Jack?” we resounded as he sat down.  In his typical low-key manner he replied, “My tie, was caught in my zipper,” to which we all burst out in laughter.
 
I was delighted to see your name and pray that you are in good health and circumstances.  Please feel free to get in touch with me and we can share some wonderful memories of enjoying such a wonderful man.
Stu Orr ’65
 

October 21, 2021

I remember Jack from Drexel and being fraternity brothers in Alpha Pi Lambda. He was, in a few words, arelly nuce guy.
Donald Faix

October 20, 2021

I have many great memories of Jack during our years at Drexel, where we were fraternity brothers at Alpha Pi Lambda.  I recall a warm, helpful and fun-loving gentleman, who was always there for me, as I was a year or two behind him.
I lost track of Jack after we left school.  I’m not surprised to read of his spectactular accomplishments, as well as the many warm and loving family members and friends he leaves behind!
Adolphus, Brother.  See you in heaven!
Robert Smorodin, Drexel, ’64

September 26, 2021

Jack was a very special man – a highly talented engineer, a kind and humane person, and a steadfast friend and companion.  We were privileged to have friended him for many years, and he will live on in our memories.  Vesta, we stand by you in your sorrow, and share your joy in remembering Jack  Mike and Sage.

September 26, 2021

We loved Jack and Vesta with all our hearts. We enjoyed so many wonderful times with them both. Jack brought sunshine into our lives. Bob and Joan

September 25, 2021

Jack was a special, unique man.  Witty, so intelligent and had a huge quest for life and new adventures.  Vesta, you have lost such a good, loving partner and we mourn with you.  Stay strong and cherish the many good times.   Sheryn and Arch
 

September 25, 2021

A great guy and very witty.  I was fortunate to work with Jack for many years. I am very sad to hear this unfortunate news.  His memories will stay with me for as long as I live.  RIP

September 25, 2021

I remember Jack as a good friend and great engineer in Intelsat days.  We worked together in many projects and enjoyed discussions with him in interesting technical topics.  My sincere condolences to his family.  I am sure he will be in better place.  May God be pleased with him.
Omar Atia

September 25, 2021

I have many fond memories of interacting with Jack at Intelsat. RIP Jack and may your memories of good times with him comfort his family.

September 25, 2021

My sincere condolences. During my interactions with Jack at Intelsat he was always a great engineer and a kind mentor. He shared his knowledge generously and demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. He will be remembered by all who knew him.

September 25, 2021

Jack and I worked together at Comsat developing satellite earth stations in support of various projects in the global satellite industry.  A kind person, excellent engineer, and a team player.  Sorry for his loss, May he Rest In Peace.

September 24, 2021

Jack was a kind, intelligent, funny and special man.  We are so glad that we were able to get to know him over the years.  He was a very special friend to Ray and Imelda.  Vesta, our thoughts are with you.  We know that you are missing him very much.

September 24, 2021

I am saddened by the loss of Jack with whom I worked for so many years. I will be missing Jack, the good friend, the knowledgeable engineer and a great human being. 

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