After a sudden and terminal cancer diagnosis shortly before Christmas, Phil’s wish was to “settle down for the duration” and spend his last few days at home with his wife, Helen and his family. He was calm and resigned, befitting of this small in stature, but Giant of a Man. He faced this last challenge as he did most; with dignity, calmness, few words, fearlessness and the utmost faith. He passed away peacefully just 9 days later on December 31, 2022, at the age of 95.
Philip Ray Snelgrove, the son of “honest” Alfred Melvin Snelgrove and “sociable” Dorothy Lambert Shaw Snelgrove, was born on 12 July 1927 in San Mateo, California.
His childhood was happily spent riding the bike his father gave him, pulling pranks, setting off stink bombs and experimenting with his chemistry set. In 1929, the family moved to Provo where Phil enjoyed being a yell leader at Brigham Young High School and socializing and skiing with friends at Timp Haven (now Sundance Resort). His 18th birthday was celebrated while serving in the Navy for the last few months of WWII. Serving a full-time mission in New Zealand began a love of missionary work, something he continued throughout his life. As recently as a month ago, he could be found sitting at his desk doing family history. He was always anxious to “give a reason” for the faith he had in Jesus Christ.
He returned to Provo to begin his studies at Brigham Young University. A lifelong, avid fan, Phil would always “Rise and Shout” to cheer on his beloved Cougars! While working as a lab assistant and ski instructor he met his sweetheart of over 70 years, Helen LaMar Palmer of Pasadena, CA. She remembers fondly him picking her up for a drive in a borrowed red convertible! On their first date he serenaded her as they drove home from an evening of dancing to Count Basie at the Coconut Grove Ballroom. They married on September 6, 1952, in the Mesa, AZ LDS Temple. He could often be heard singing her a phrase from a favorite song by Nat King Cole and they enjoyed dancing all of their married life.
Phil graduated from BYU with a degree in Physics and Math, and while Helen was expecting their first child, Steven, they returned to Pasadena, where, with the help of Helen’s father, Lowell, they built their first home on New York Drive. It was here that Phil earned a Master’s Degree from CalTech and Leslie (Brian Louw, deceased), Juli (Lou Brown), Carol (Erich Wiesinger), Jonathan (Cheryl), Clark (Laura) and Lisa (Brad Greenhalgh) were born. For the sake of Helen’s health, the family moved to Camarillo, and welcomed Susan, Rebecca (Brad Caldwell) and RayAnn. Life was busy and chaotic and especially challenging as Helen’s health was not good, but Phil worked tirelessly to provide for his family and serve the Lord.
In 1974, the family moved to Kanab, Utah where Phil worked developing Kanab Creek Ranchos, a subdivision later annexed to the city. After the near completion of this project, the family moved to Orem, where Phil built the home in which he passed. He was resourceful, creative and entrepreneurial in his career choices and always found time for the people and things he valued in his life. Phil and Helen served a full-time mission in Utica, NY and a church service mission in Laie, HI. They traveled extensively around the world and endlessly planned trips across the country to visit children and grandchildren.
Phil was practical, sharp-witted and a hard worker who was often found doing manual labor, right up until recent months. Generous, kind and thoughtful, he collected friends wherever he went. He was well-versed in scripture, knew a lot about most everything, and was always willing to help someone who was in need. He tirelessly took good care of Helen, right up until his last few weeks. His one regret would have been that his time on earth ended before hers, not allowing him to continue to take care of her. Days before his death, in his weakened condition, he still inquired after Helen’s well-being.
The pillar of his large and close-knit family, he was at almost every party, and always remembered birthdays, names of great-grandchildren (no small feat) and the details of our lives. Most importantly, he and Helen were always ready to take a twirl on the dance floor! Obviously, as a Snelgrove, ice cream was also a part of every celebration!
Upon learning his time was short, Phil’s top priority was sharing his testimony with his posterity. He loved his Savior Jesus Christ and was grateful for our Heavenly Father’s patience and love for him. He loved the principle of agency that allows each of us to repent, change and grow, line upon line, as we strive to become more like our Savior.
In recent years, Phil kept track of how many days he’d spent on earth: 34,874.62 days! How grateful we were to have so many. His legacy of faith, humility, hard work and fearlessness will continue to inspire each of us blessed to have known him. We love you, Phil--until we meet again.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, January 7, 2023, at 11:30 a.m. at the Lakeview LDS Stake Center located at 1800 South 400 West in Orem, Utah.
Condolences for the family may be expressed on this page.
For those unable to attend in person, you may view the Services Live via YouTube beginning Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DQPDqgZ-rc