My husband, Dr. Philip Zwicke, died on Saturday, June 2, at Villa Alamar, eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 57. At his side were myself, his sons, Christopher Zwicke and Sean Alexander, and his daughter-in-law, Christy Zwicke. His sister Christina Gregerson, brother Michael Zwicke, and brother-in-law Chris Madsen were present in spirit.
Phil was born in Fair Oaks, California, to Virginia and Colonel Norbert Zwicke. He also lived in Louisiana, Nebraska, and Virginia, as his father transferred to different Air Force bases. In 1967, Phil enrolled at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he earned his BS, MS, and PhD in electrical engineering. There he met his first wife, Onolee, who has remained a lifelong friend. He loved his time at Virginia Tech and was always an enthusiastic Hokie fan. In 1982, Phil moved to Santa Barbara where he worked at General Research Corporation and later, Toyon Research Corporation. An accomplished engineer in the field of radar technology, Phil won 11 patents and wrote numerous technical articles, winning an award in 1982 for best technical paper published in Materials Evaluation, the journal of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing.
An avid outdoorsman, Phil was particularly passionate about windsurfing, swimming, and hiking. He was always prepared for wind, his little red Toyota overflowing with boards and sails. Whenever the wind came up, he made a beeline from the office to Leadbetter Beach. He was a fixture in the local windsurfing community for more than 20 years. Phil also loved hiking and could often be found at the Botanic Garden, Tunnel Trail, and Rattlesnake Canyon with his beloved dog, Homer. And on his lunch breaks, he was always at the pool, swimming his daily mile.
Above all else, Phil was a family man, completely devoted to his sons and me. Some of our favorite family memories include playing games in front of the fireplace on cold winter evenings, feasting on barbecued tri-tip in the summer, tent camping on the snow-covered banks of the Merced River in Yosemite, exploring the beaches and trails of Big Sur, ski trips to Lake Tahoe and beyond, swimming with sea turtles in Kona, and shark feeding in Tahiti. Phil will be remembered as a loving, funny, intelligent, generous, and wise soul.
Phil was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1999. Soon thereafter, Phil and I renewed our wedding vows in celebration of our 10th anniversary, and traveled the world. Highlights included dining at Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, hiking the Via Amore in Cinque Terre, Italy, and staying at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. As the illness progressed, we stayed closer to home. Despite many difficult times, Phil handled his illness with amazing grace and courage, maintaining his sense of humor, love of music, and profound connection to family. In addition, through the medium of watercolor, Phil was able to express a deep spirituality and appreciation of beauty in nature and in people. His watercolors include “The Glacier,” “Turtle Magic,” and “Walking in the Light.”
Phil’s family and I wish to express our eternal gratitude to the staff of Villa Alamar and to Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of Santa Barbara for their love, support, and outstanding care at the end of Phil’s life.
A celebration of Phil’s life will be held at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center on July 23 at 10 a.m. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Life Chronicles, PO Box 31152, Santa Barbara, CA 93130 or through the Web site, lifechronicles.org.