Phil Ross Memorial

Phil Ross passed away on February 14, 2018.

Phil was Trillium’s Godfather and on our Board of Directors. Phil’s Celebration of Life Service at Bull Run Unitarian Universalists was held on February 28, 2018. The video of that service is shown below with a copy of Cynthia’s memorial to Phil that she gave that evening. Also included on this page is a video of pictures from Phil’s life, put to music that Phil selected before he passed.

Phil Ross will forever be in our hearts and in the work we do in Prince William County. Trillium’s Staff and Board of Directors are eternally grateful to him and will miss him greatly.

Virginia Celebration of Life for Phil Ross

Cynthia’s remembrance of Phil

I met Phil in 2005 or 2006, just when I began to understand how to manage my own mental illness symptoms more fully and began to piece my life together. But I didn’t really start to get to know Phil until April of 2007 when he told Ann, Traci and I about the grant funding available for consumer run businesses.

So we wrote the grant with Phil’s help and encouragement which never wavered. When we began searching for property and forming the corporation Phil always seemed to be available for questions or just simple support. Of which we needed a lot.

It was Phil who provided the bridge between Trillium and Community Services. He invited us to a meeting that included others who cared about and/or worked in mental health to network, keep abreast of what was going on, and just see how we could help or collaborate with each other.

He was pretty busy working on the early years of NAMI-PW and I seemed increasingly busy with what’s now known as Trillium. When I would see him he was often inviting me to yet another meeting in Prince William regarding mental health. Including something complicated that I couldn’t quite wrap my mind about called DIVERT. They were about to do some sort of ‘mapping’ and as graciously as I could, no matter how much he persisted, I at that time declined to get involved. Until I couldn’t say no to him after a couple more years of gently pushing me to do so.

His interest, energy and participation in efforts seemed tireless. He just cared so darn much about the services people living with mental illness were receiving in our community. He was always thinking about ways to improve our mental health system, setting goals and creating relationships to achieve those goals.

My personal passion is mental health recovery and it was easy to create a friendship with Phil over that strong interest we both shared. He began stopping by on a regular basis and we’d sit for an hour or two in my office talking about our interactions and meetings. There was always more to do.

The friendship between Phil and I developed. And somehow it was so much more than friendship. Phil, a lifetime member of Mensa and one of the most gentle, diplomatic people I have ever met, became someone that I simply relied on.

He was just that kind of person who was always non-judgmental and had the insight that I so desperately needed. Remember, I was just getting my own life together and striving to become a responsible adult when Phil and I met. I was feeling my way into this new career, and a really brand new path which no one else seemed to have walked before.

And thank goodness Phil was there. He was there to listen, support and encourage. He was there to literally wipe a tear from my cheek when something had upset me. He was there to clear the confusion I would have about acronyms or people mentioned at meetings. He was there to drag me into initiatives that were not in line with my heart but he had that gentle convincing way to show me just how important it was for me to merely show up. And I think you all know I spend most of my time with people living with mental illness, and thank goodness Phil was my translator when I didn’t understand something a ‘normal’ person had said.

Phil just loved people. It was clear in the conversations he had with others. He was so darn good at sending funny jokes in email and sending tidbits of interesting articles about nothing much but he wanted to just make me and others smile. I remember years ago the first time he saw a picture of our Trillium Staff. He insisted on me sending him a copy of the picture with names to identify all the folks so he could address them by name each time he saw them.

I knew Phil had health issues. I was there when he was diagnosed and I was there when he planned his trip to see friends in Australia. He was so excited to be having a stopover in Dubai, a place he simply just wanted to see. It cracked me up when he was annoyed at not being able to skydive into one of the palm islands.

Before I close, I’d like to share one of my favorite memories of Phil. It was during our annual Mental Health Awareness Event. We had a Mindfulness table with people who taught mindfulness techniques to our attendees. I am on the MHAE Committee and the event is very busy for me. A couple of times during the evening Phil asked me to explain mindfulness to him. I brushed him off, being way too busy to stop and chat. At the end of that part of the program Phil picked a feather up off the mindfulness table, stopped me one more time and said Cynthia, I don’t understand mindfulness could you please just explain it to me. So I said ok Phil. Here’s an example of mindfulness. I am giving all my attention to you and this conversation we are having in this moment instead of focusing on corralling all our folks into the auditorium, which is what I should be doing. We both just cracked up laughing and went about our business.

I am so grateful to have known Phil Ross. I can honestly say I am a better woman because I knew him. In my grief of his passing my heart hurts. I miss my friend. And in the darkest moments of grief I wonder how the world keeps going on without him. But the gratitude prevails.

And now I have to say I wonder who will be my ‘normal’ translator now. Don’t be surprised if I call one of you out of the blue in the near future to see if you can help me translate.


The Prince William Board of County Supervisors posthumously recognized Phil for his service in mental health with a BOCS Commendation. The Commendation was presented to Phil's family By Alan Wooten, Executive Director of Community Services, during the Celebration of Life Service at BRUU.

The Senate of Virginia passed a Joint Resolution to recognize the service of Phil to our community. This award was presented to the family at the Celebration of Life that was held in Maryland.




Slide Show
© 2014 Prince William Drop-In Center, Inc.

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