Hello. My name is Philip David Miske and I was born on March 13, 1929 in Thorpe, Wisconsin. On Jan. 18, 2017, I passed away from this life and entered into another new and most wondrous place. I am survived by my beautiful wife, Mary Louise of 61 years; my younger brother, Robert Carl; my three children, Molly Marie, Thomas Conroy and Mary Kate; my three grandchildren, Donovan Scott, Khristian John and Sasha Marie. Now, as tradition would certainly suggest, I could endeavor to present you here with the simple facts and details of my life's work and also professional achievements, however, I would much prefer to share with you some of my most cherished memories and life stories that help to illustrate what an absolutely wonderful and charmed life I had the good fortune to lead. These experiences truly shaped me into the husband, father and friend who I believe I came to be. They also help define what I feel my life's real purpose and meaning really was. I have always truly believed that the measure of a person's wealth in life is defined by their family, and also the friends they chose to keep (and who also chose them). And I know it to be true that it is not the quantity of friends and loved ones that surround you throughout your life, but much more importantly, the quality. In that regard alone, I was extremely fortunate to have an abundance in both respects. And for that reason I was truly a blessed and humbled person throughout my entire life; I simply understood that my family and friends were the genuine treasures bestowed upon me in this life and that they were also the main driving force that kept me keeping on until the day I took my very final breath.
When I first met my wife to be, it was on a blind date in 1954 and she was only 19 years old while I was 7 years her senior. She was very nervous as it was her first blind date and, it was with an older man who I might add, was bald! Well, I managed to instantly sweep her off her feet with my quick wit, undeniable charm, and superior talent as a master angler (who wouldn't fall for a master angler?). After we married and I completed my service in the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1957, we moved up to Traverse City to start my dental career and more significantly, our family. In 1961, we adopted our first child, Molly Marie from the Michigan Children's Aid Society. Before my passing, Molly shared with me how thankful she was that Mary Lou and I had selected her over all the others; if you could have seen her when we took her home for the first time, there was obviously no other choice to be made and it marked one the first and most significant lifetime decisions we made as husband and wife. Several years later in 1963, we adopted our second child, Thomas Conroy and, figuring we were on a roll and three truly is great company, in 1967, we adopted our third and final child, Mary Kate. When Mary Lou and I set eyes on these three children for the first time as a complete family, it was an unmistakable realization that we had the family we had always wanted and prayed for. I also knew with undeniable clarity that I had the soul mate of my life in Mary Lou, a most extraordinary woman that gave me an immeasurable amount of joy and purpose throughout my entire life...from the moment I first laid eyes on her to the moment I closed them for the final time.
Raising a family on the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City was also one of the greatest joys of my life and we could not have found a better setting or neighborhood in which to settle down. With my lifelong friend, Stuart Hubbell and his family bordering our neighborhood to the north, the Miske family anchored it to the south. The summers were filled with neighborhood cook outs on the beach, lake trout and steelhead fishing in the spring and small mouth bass fishing in late summer. One of my favorite memories during this most wondrous time was searching for the elusive weed bed in August with my daughter, Mary Kate while we fished for small mouth bass. A dozen crawlers, a few split shot, an Eagle Claw hook or two, a Mitchell Garcia 300 spinning reel, a decent fishing rod, Hubbell's 12 foot leaky rowboat and a worthy fishing partner whenever one could be found or coaxed, would do the trick every time. Lake trout and steelhead fishing in the spring was altogether another experience entirely. My very close friend and fishing associate Pat Marshall, would often fly his Cessna 172 up from Detroit for a long weekend of fishing for steelhead and lake trout from our beach during the annual and epic spring run in Grand Traverse Bay. Many an evening long after sunset, someone up at the house would get the call from the beach to drive the Chevy down to the end of the driveway to shine the headlights across Peninsula Drive so we could see well enough to land the prize fish whose fate was contested. And, if you were the lucky angler with the fish on, your main hope beyond hope was not that you land the large fish before it had the chance to throw your hook, it was that the fish at the end of your line was not the dreaded carp, instead of the coveted trout. The unlucky blighter, who managed to actually land the beastly carp before realizing his perilous mistake, would thereby earn the unsavory moniker of "Carp King" until it could be awarded again to the next unlucky sole the following spring.
One of the most unique and undoubtedly prestigious organizations Mary Lou and I had the privilege to help create as charter members, was the Premier Bridge Club, or PBC. The PBC was an eclectic group of the most interesting, diverse and wonderful people ever assembled within the same association. With backgrounds ranging from insurance sales to cherry farming, to newspaper journalism, to dentistry and even anesthesiology, this one completely unique group of dear and close friends formed a bond that would shape all of our lives and last an entire lifetime. During the latter years of its official existence, playing bridge was simply a cover that provided us with an excuse to congregate once a month for an evening of laughter, festivities, fabulous company, marvelous food and of course much more laughter. Today, after 57 years as a "club", many of the original cast and crew are no longer among you, yours truly included. However, the new "Saint Peter's Bridge Club" (or SPBC) that is currently forming where I shall now forever call home, continues to receive and embrace new members as we proceed on our journey through all phases of both life and death. And yes, when the time comes, even those rouges from Princeton will be welcomed. The University of Michigan contingency up here is still very wary of the Michigan State and Penn State inductees it has received over the recent past, but if it worked so well once, then what the heck? At this rate the new SPBC promises to be an amazing and diversified troupe of characters indeed; possibly even more so than the original PBC...heaven forbid!
Other adventures in my life that brought me great joy and countless fond memories were my travels, as modest as they may have been. They were, however, inspiring life shaping journeys that I thoroughly reveled in as these opportunities presented themselves and I gratefully experienced them. These included my fishing trip to Alaska with my son, Tom where we found that all the tall fishing tales about Alaska were indeed true! Never had we caught so many fish of so many different species all from the same rivers upon which we traveled. In 2002, Tom and I also traversed the Civil War battlefields of the eastern United States that saw the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia fight countless bloody battles whose outcome forged the future and fate of our great nation. My trip to France in 2012 with Tom, Sheila and Mary Lou brought me to the Normandy D-Day beaches, Monet's Gardens in Giverny, the Palace of Versailles, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Louvre and of course my favorite, Les Invalides where I fulfilled a lifelong dream to visit Napoleon's Tomb. I also witnessed an enormous exhibit of Napoleon's world renowned mounted Calvary troops, life size and in all of their full dress splendid glory; that was truly one of the most moving and amazing spectacles I have ever laid eyes on. My daughter-in-law, Sheila who accompanied us during this entire wondrous journey as we also visited the Orsay, Pompidou and Rodin museums, provided us with the most intimate and personal insights into the intrigue surrounding the extraordinary masterpieces we had discovered within the hallowed walls of these iconic art institutions; all with a passion that only a true artist and art admirer is capable.
It is with no doubt that I never would have made it as far in life as I did, nor enjoyed my final years and live then as fully as I was truly capable, without my grandchildren. My daughter, Molly Marie blessed me with three miracles in the name of Donovan, Khristian and Sasha. These three wonderful gifts kept me young, sprite and on my toes from the day they were brought into this world, until the day I left it. Donovan Scott, my eldest grandson, constantly found new and creative ways to keep me in touch with my family, friends and the world around me as my eyes and ears were slowly failing. Over the years, he also shared an abundance of quality time and companionship with his many friends and close associates. These highly enjoyable and entertaining interludes filled many a day and evening with endless laughter, stories and of course, wonderful food.
Although I unsuccessfully attempted to sell my younger brother, Robert when he was just two weeks old, he became and remained a constant and prominent figure throughout my entire life. Robert spent every Christmas, Thanksgiving, trout opener, family event or simply long weekend at my side while we walked, fished, read books, watched ball games or enjoyed a fabulous lunch at my daughter, Mary Kate's delicatessen, which by the way, was always my favorite haunt and destination during my leisurely walks. As I reflect upon my attempt to sell him as a youngster, I definitely believe that if I tried to sell him again now, he would fetch a much heftier bounty!
Well, it appears it is now I who must carry the message to St. Peter's gates that Lions fans are truly ready and worthy of that ever elusive Super Bowl championship. While, upon his arrival at these very gates several years ago, my dear friend, Stuart was indeed able to negotiate the Lions a playoff spot following a dismal winless season, it now appears that it will take a team effort from the both of us to complete the job and land us the NFL's Holy Grail. I leave you now for the final time with these written words, but I will never leave you in spirit or memory. I do consider myself to be the most fortunate person to ever grace God's beautiful earth and may those be my only boastful words. My friends, family and loved ones were the greatest gifts and the most wondrous treasures ever bestowed upon me during my life. It is with this exact sentiment that I am able to leave you with this final and enduring truth...I left this world with absolutely no regrets, none. This is how I rest in peace now and will for all of time.
Farewell and God bless, Philo
A memorial celebration will be held on Friday, May 12 at 11:30 a.m. at the Easling cabin. Please call 947-9146 to RSVP and for directions.
Published on May 1, 2017