Phil Landfried

Date of Birth

November 4, 1944

Date of Death

February 19, 2022

City of Death

Santa Barbara

It is with great sadness that the family of John Philip Landfried announces his passing in his sleep on January 12, 2022.

Phil Landfried was born November 4,1944, to John and MaryBelle (Brown) Landfried, in Dallas, Texas. He and his parents moved to Cincinnati, Ohio a few years later where they welcomed his brother Larry in 1948, and sister, Tina, in 1951.

In Cincinnati, Phil went to Pleasant Ridge Elementary School, and then to Walnut Hills Junior and High School.

He was always adventurous, ready for action, sometimes skipping school, a teenage rebel who presented his parents and grandparents with challenges. He was the fearless kid who, on vacation, would climb up somewhere really high, and get everybody super scared. He was gregarious and greatly enjoyed his high school fraternity life .

He was academically very successful at Wabash College in Indiana but found the single sex campus not to his liking and after one year, he announced to his family at Christmas breakfast that he had quit college and would be traveling around the country in an old Nash car with his friend.

After a year of eventful travel in the US and Mexico with short bouts of work in Florida, New Orleans and California, he returned in 1963 to continue his education at Ohio State University where he received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Journalism and Communications. The Vietnam War was for him, and for many other resolutely anti-war young men, a compelling reason for continuing to graduate school and for starting a teaching career. In 1969 He taught at Madison South High School in London, Ohio, where he was impressed that many of his students could work long hours on the family farm while attending high school.

Loneliness induced Phil to return to Columbus where he had many friends and where he was able to be a substitute teacher and could work on a construction crew that completely framed one house per day even in icy winter. He hung out at a local bar called Larry’s that attracted a great variety of tipplers – OSU grad students, poets, chess players, politicos, pundits and those who liked to BS about everything. There he met Ilze Svanks and soon the two were off on a cross country trip that was to last fifty years. Starting off in the middle of winter they survived blizzards in Wyoming and Montana, endless rain in Seattle and Vancouver and found themselves in Santa Barbara on a beautiful day at the end of January 1971.

Phil enjoyed life in Santa Barbara trying a variety of activities – he had an organic food store called Yellow Sun West, he volunteered at La Casa de la Raza constructing its theater and he taught at the “Free School” that was housed at La Casa. It was, however, at the Montessori Center School that he would teach for the next 40 years. He joined the school in 1971 when it was on the Riviera, then moved with it to the Hope Campus on La Colina Rd and finally to Fairview Ave. In addition to teaching, he was the director of the school in 1974 and served on its Board of Trustees and various committees throughout the years. Initially he taught the very young but really came into his own teaching the upper elementary students – math being his favorite. He enthusiastically led his students backpacking, encouraging them to actually plan their own trips and cook their meals independently.

He was an early computer enthusiast and eventually became the computer specialist at Montessori. He took this skill to Mountain View Elementary School where he taught for an additional 7 years retiring in 2018. He was always an entrepreneurial educator holding after school classes and camps whenever he could.

Phil and Ilze married in a lively Latvian style celebration on a warm, humid, mosquito ridden day in Columbus, Ohio in August 1973. After days of wedding celebrations, they began their camping trip back to Santa Barbara sustained by a giant sausage given to them as a wedding present. They were happy that their roommates, including Phil’s brother, Larry, welcomed them back to SB and life in their “hippie” household was lively for another few years. They became parents in 1978 with son, Stefan and his brother, Mik in 1983.

Phil had endless energy. He was often backpacking, on bike trips, helping with Boy Scout trips, and supporting his sons’ soccer and volleyball activities. The family enjoyed camping, skiing and many trips with grandparents and friends. Phil played volleyball at East Beach. It was his favorite activity by far. Sunday mornings without fail would find him there, hanging out after games with his many friends.

Phil and Ilze traveled well together and in 1984 took the kids on a year’s sabbatical to see Europe in a VW Camper. Mik celebrated his first birthday at Cambridge and Stefan his seventh in southern Spain. Returning to Santa Barbara after each trip or vacation was what made Phil truly happy. Losing his house in the Sycamore Canyon fire and enduring the many e-vacations (as he called fire evacuations) did not dampen his love for the community. He volunteered with many organizations and enjoyed seeing his former students and their parents around town . He was proud that his son, Stefan, served in the Navy as a medic with the Marines and that Stefan was recognized for the service he has continued to provide to veterans.

After retirement Phil and Ilze were fortunate to be able to travel all over the world taking a couple of trips each year. They loved trips that involved hiking and were especially pleased to meet sister Tina to hike the Lake District in England going from hostel to hostel. In the last few years, Phil enthusiastically took up the slide guitar playing with the ukulele group, playing with his band, and entertaining the older folks in retirement facilities. He always loved the country and folk songs of the 60’s!

Phil is preceded in death by his parents, by his son, Mik, by his brother, Lawrence (Larry) Landfried and nephew, Scott Landfried. He is survived by Ilze and his son Stefan, by his sister, Tina Landfried and nieces Robin DeCicco, Mimi Bergen of Oregon and niece Arica Landfried Thompson of Texas and nephew Marc Nunes of Georgia. He leaves behind other inlaws, cousins and family in Oregon, New York and Texas.

A commemoration of his life that he would have found enjoyable is planned for later in the summer. If you would like to be notified, please send your name and email to


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