Philip "Phil" Hoyt, of Beulah, passed away peacefully on Jan. 18, 2018 with his wife, Mary, and daughters, Jessica and Abby, by his side.
Phil was born May 19, 1948 in Kalamazoo the eldest son of James and Sylvia (Feyen) Hoyt. His father taught him much about mechanical skills, and time spent in his grandpa's iris garden nurtured his interest in gardening, especially flowers.
After graduating from Gull Lake High School he attended Ferris State University, and the mechanical training he learned there served him well when he became a Navy Seabee in 1968.
He joined the 13-man Seabee Team 1020 - known as the Cheyenne Outlaws - who assisted the rural Vietnamese who fought beside the U.S. special forces. As the utility man on the team, Phil helped in constructing roads and fresh water systems as well as building a school and the Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital. He was proud of these accomplishments and valued the friendships he made there.
While home on his second leave he married his life partner, Mary Papineau, of Beulah, on Oct. 4, 1969 at St. Philip Neri in Empire. They had met just prior to his first tour at a party at Western Michigan University, where he had rescued her at a party that was about to be raided. He said he was drawn to her black dress and its brass buttons. Their wedding was followed by an epic celebration at the Papineau home on Eden Hill Road in Beulah.
After two more tours in Vietnam Phil returned to civilian life in 1971. He and Mary left the Navy base in Port Hueneme, California, and returned to Kalamazoo, where he worked for The Upjohn Company until 1976. They then decided to move to Beulah to start their family.
Phil owned numerous successful businesses throughout his career, including Hoyt's Eden Hill Heating and Cooling, Crystal Water Works and B&D Manufacturing. Most recently he was general manager at BioTech Agronomics in Beulah. Four years ago he and Mary started Thimble Farm, a specialty cut flower business.
Working in the soil, planting and nurturing the flowers and seeing how people enjoyed their beauty brought Phil much joy. Together they shared the farming duties, supplying their flowers to four area florists. For them, it was absolute heaven on earth to walk in the farm in the morning dew and cutting the flowers during the sunset or late morning when the light maximized the intense colors. Phil was meticulous in preparing, planting and maintaining, while Mary enjoyed the cutting of the flowers. They felt blessed to have the beautiful flowers growing in a maze of colors and textures and delighted in filling bucket after bucket of them to share with others. This endeavor filled their souls like nothing else.
Phil had a constant drive to learn. With each interest he would read, seek out a mentor, master the skill and forge new friendships. Most notably, Phil enjoyed cooking, fishing, building and flying an ultralight plane, dog sledding, beekeeping, coon hunting, riding his motorcycle, singing in the church and community choirs and camping with the family.
Phil was diagnosed with leukemia - a result of his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam - in July of 2017. When he learned the leukemia was service-related, he said, "I can't stop thinking about the Vietnamese who never had a chance," a reflection that speaks to Phil's character. His loyalty and willingness to help those he cared about was unwavering.
Phil will be forever remembered walking among his flowers, sitting on his porch sharing a meal with his family, reading from a mountain of books, attending "prayer group," chauffeuring "Magical Mystical Tours," having morning coffee on the hill, bonfires on the beach and playing with his grandchildren.
He was elected to the Benzie County Road Commission in 2016. He appreciated the opportunity to represent the community, and the manager stated that Phil's wisdom and experience made a lasting impact on the road commission. He also served on the Benzie County Veterans Affairs Committee and participated in developing the newly constructed Veterans Memorial.
The family is often reminded of his many one-liners and funny phrases. As he would say, "Time to go. I'm out of spit." Phil was fortunate to have a "Can Do" spirit and it earned him a life full of blessings.
He is survived by his loving wife, Mary; daughters, Jessica Hoyt, of Beulah, and Abby (Matt) Smith, of Beulah; three grandchildren, Haliyah, Grady and Jack, all of whom he was so proud; his mother, Sylvia Bussema, of Kalamazoo; brothers, Richard (Lynn) and James (Robin), both of Kalamazoo; sister, Suzanne (Kevin) Klok, of Holland; nieces, nephews and their families; and the entire Papineau clan.
He was preceded in death by his father, James; brother, Steven; the late John Bussema; and also his in-laws, Grant and Marvel Papineau.
A funeral Mass will be held Saturday, Feb. 24, at 11 a.m., at St. Ann Catholic Church in Frankfort, with the Rev. Msgr. John Porter serving as celebrant. Lunch and fellowship will follow.
The family is grateful for the team at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital, Cancer and Hematology of Grand Rapids and the Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, not only for the excellent care, but for the hugs and keeping Phil's humor in check.
For those wishing to honor Phil's memory, please consider donating blood and plasma, as these were vital to his care (www.miblood.org). Donations may also be made in Phil's memory to the Benzie County Veterans Memorial (www.benzieco.net) or the Grand Traverse Area Disabled American Veterans Chapter 38 (www.gtadav.us).
Arrangements are by Jowett Family Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Benzonia.
Published on February 4, 2018