A needed person, needlessly taken
Phillip was born with a heart condition, yet he didn’t let it slow him down. In fact, Phillip was such a loving, kind, caring, and giving person, it was as though his heart fully embraced these traits from the moment he was born.
Caring came naturally to Phillip. When Phillip was twelve years old, he saved a smaller child from drowning in a ditch. He was very protective of his younger sister, Jessica. When she was a baby and cried in the night, Phillip would come to get his mother for help. He was best friends with Ryan since age ﬁve and remained his best friend throughout their lives. Most people would agree that Phillip was the least judgmental person they met. He was easy to talk to, listened to them intently, and would give them the shirt off his back if needed. One of the biggest examples of his loving heart was how he took care of his son, Jeffery, who was born with severe handicaps. Phillip exhausted everything for his son. He would tell you that Jeff was by far his biggest accomplishment. Spending time with Jeff was his ultimate joy. He was passionate about playing Challenger Baseball and Special Olympics with him. Supporting Jeff through his brain surgery while healing from his own heart surgery reﬂected his unwavering love.
Amanda Bruckner was his high school sweetheart, the love of his life, and the mother of his son. He never looked back once he met her. He wanted more than anything to be married and live with her, helping to raise their son.
Phillip’s mother, Debbie, has happy memories of him as a child and young adult. He enjoyed hunting, ﬁshing, camping, road trips, and eating good food. His dad coached him all through his little league years. He went skydiving with his mom across the Royal Gorge. He ate his sister’s entire birthday cake one year, which did not go over well! Debbie remembers the multiple times they towed him home in his truck down the teenager’s main cruise road. Phillip led the crew in his high school construction course in building the castle at Western Colorado Botanical Gardens.
As he grew up, Phillip became an oil and lube mechanic. He obtained management through his hard work and dedication to the company. He was proud of his position and the mechanical achievements that came with it.
Phillip went through medical hell during the last two years of his life. His traumatic medical issues included two back-to-back open-heart surgeries within as many months, a vein surgery, and teeth being removed, which led to a blood transfusion and a long hospital stay.
His mother struggled with wanting to blame the medical staff for feeding him the medications that ultimately drew him back into addiction and led to his death. She also struggled with being angry with Phillip for breaking her trust and how he would become mean and violent when he was under the inﬂuence. She feared for Jeff’s future, and had rage at the dealers who aided in taking his life.
Debbie’s views have changed since Phillip’s active addiction. She speaks more openly about substance use disorder and how there should be no fault. She admits she has had times when she was ashamed of Phillip’s addiction and didn’t want people to know, but now she wants everyone to know just how easily it can be them.
Phillip’s mother, Debra Doyle, provided the information for this narrative.
November 16, 1984- February 3, 2021-Age 36
Portrait Artist: Shawn Faust
Narrative Writer: Lynn McKnight