Skip to content

tribute: stories of Philip from friends and family

This is not the news I expected today, even though I have known that it would come. Just last week I googled the Flat Earth Society. A photo of Philip I once saw years ago had suddenly come to mind: A Franciscan with a staff, and of course his sandals. I wish I had called.

Warm embraces to my dear “Corinna, Corinna” and to Lauren.   In love and peace,    Adrienne Seward

I am so saddened to hear that Philip has left us. Although the years have run past since I last saw him– or you –I have held onto the fond memories of our few years together in Boston: wonderful bike rides; sharing sardines and beer; him teaching me to juggle. Philip radiated life and unselfishly shared his joy for living it.

There are fava beans in my freezer that I will create a special meal around in celebration of Philip and you.    Daniel Windham

Jennifer, I heard about Philip’s passing from Adrienne  and really regret the news. Please accept my deepest condolences. All the best to you and your family,    Hortense Spillers

This is a great loss for us, and for everyone. He was such a special person, and it was always fun and stimulating to be with all of you. Philip was an important part of our life for many years; it’s difficult to think of that I’ve without him. 

He was so lucky to have you and the girls and such a loving family. We’re glad he was able to pass away quietly with those he loved around him, and that he did not suffer too much. We will never forget him.    Breon and Lynda Mitchell

I had not stayed close contact with Phil after I departed KU and was very unaware of what all he accomplished until I read his obituary.  We did spend many close years together through high school and a couple years at KU.  I do know that he was responsible for me playing drums which I’ve done the rest of my life.  He played Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall concert for me and I heard Krupa and decided that was what drumming was about.    Ken Pearce

We remember a great friend, who shared years of our lives as students at Heidelberg University and a phantastic actor in performances of the English Drama Group.

His ironic way of looking at things and his bohemian attitude were inspiration to many of us. We loved his storytelling and his laugh was infectious.    Walter Sauer, Hilu Petry, Mike Nentwich, Wolfgang Kaul, Eike Schmitz, Ekkehard Miersch, Ruth Harrison-Green,  Heide Miersch-Maltry,    Schoenaich. Germany

Philip’s brilliant, down to earth insights and personality, which he shared with his friends in person, and with the world through his writings, was even more rare than the disease that took him down.     Carl and Barbara Peck

Philip was a wonderful friend, an inspiring mentor, and an astonishingly talented teller of lies. He will live on in his family, friends, and his amazing books. The world lost a great one. He will be missed.    Ron and Ann Hendel

Philip & I had many classes together at DHS, we went on the harvest and started college together. He was a great person to have around when we were trapped in a small trailer while it rained for a few days in Hoxie, KS.    Hank Van Arsdale

I always enjoyed being around Philip, listening to his stories and his harmonica playing. I’ll miss you, Philip, but I am sure glad I knew you.    David Hann

I always appreciated what a free spirit he was and special person, deeply authentic, kind and blessed with some lightness of spirit so it seemed…In the last year I for some reason  several times thought of writing to Philip to say hello realizing of course there had been a whole lifetime since I’d last been in touch. It came to mind several times…Somehow  Philip was my friend – regardless of our not having met or been in touch. Other friends he’s had no doubt have that same experience.     Celia Candlin

At what was perhaps the last family reunion at 25 North 29th Street, someone observed that Philip was the only one who wasn’t sweating profusely. He replied, “Waaal, thet’s cause I’m built like a radiator.”

When Philip and his family visited me in Delaplane Virginia, and we played some music together, he became more than a relative: he became a friend. I’ll think of him whenever I hear a train song.

In his first book, Harvesting Ballads, which contained abstractions of Kimball history, Philip named a character Sorry. His insight into the people and the time was evident in the opening line, “Shootin’ snooker and pissin’ in the shuffleboard machine.”

Travel well Philip. Shalom averre.    Greg Hunsaker

How many times I recall you 3 boys driving down from Wichita…riding always in the back, headed for the creek below Otis and Juanita’s place, coming to my folks place while you were down here. Phil was about 3 when I first recall him.He shall be missed by all of us for sure. Please keep his journals as they are totally priceless as he had a way with words that entertained us all. His daily routine when on the harvest crews up north (to me) were the best of the best.    Gene Gill

Philip and the Kimball Cuzzins dropped in on a few gigs when visiting Oklahoma and Texas. The highlight of the visits was always the blues harmonica from Philip. Somewhere out there,  is a video of the last session… at Seminole, OK just a few years ago.

I will re-read Harvesting Ballads… and soak up the family history one more time … Here’s to you Cuzzin’ Philip… One for the road!    Tim Russell

Remembering Unca Pip

Story teller knows

Exaggeration tells the

Whole truth, nothing but

Will Kimball

I’ll never forget jamming with him in Cape Cod, playing chess and listening to him tell stories. I even learned from him musically, even if I probably didn’t know it at the time. I think “learning” for me back then was more about just having an experience, and every time I got to hang out with Philip it was a fun and unique experience. I told Sharla that I remember having an “un-schooler” t-shirt that I would wear a lot. The shirt was an unofficial definition for an un-schooler, talking about what they would learn from and what they would do. One thing the shirt said, was that un-schooler’s would “learn from eccentric uncles.”    Chad Lefkowitz-Brown

I never knew your dad very well, I don’t even know that I ever officially met him… but I’ve always had a sort of silent respect for him, since attending his reading of some selections from Liar’s Moon when it came out. I actually often think of him and that reading, when I am trying to inspire myself to write. I remember seeing him once when he was dropping Lauren off at our place, and being star-struck… he seemed to me a gifted man–and humble and quietly charming. But that’s just me. I’m sorry to hear of his passing.      Josie Legler

I’m so sorry to hear about your father. He was a subtle sage, something like a character you’d bump into in a novel from the beginning of the twentieth century, rather than playing harmonica and relaxing in Lawrence. I remember two things he taught me: the proper way to slice a mango (which is still the way I do it), and what a great movie Black Orpheus was.     Phaedra Babcock

more tributes