J. Philip “Phil” Matejczyk, March 20, 1937 – June 23, 2018. When Phil was ten years old, his father who was recently out of the Army with a brand-new Ford, decided to drive them both from Pittsburgh through the Allegheny National Forest to Niagara Falls. With little money they stayed in a room with a flickering light bulb. Phil’s dad explained that the power was 50 cycles per second rather than 60. They then took tours of the hydroelectric plants along the Niagara River. To say that Phil was impressed with the rushing water, huge hydro machines and humming transformers would be an understatement. Phil told his father, “I want to do that when I grow up.” His dad responded, “You have to first become an electrical engineer.” So began Phil’s lifelong attraction to water—from sailing the Great Lakes in the family 40-ft. sailboat, to sailing across the Atlantic in a tall ship, to working for one of the world’s premier hydroelectric consulting firms. After graduation from Penn State he held increasingly responsible positions with the Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec), General Electric Company and Harza Engineering Company. Interestingly, as a young Penelec engineer in the early sixties, he spent days walking the construction site for the Kinzua Dam and Seneca Pumped Storage Generating Station on the Allegheny River—a Harza project.
Phil always felt that we as good citizens have an obligation to give back to the communities in which we live. He served on the Downers Grove Plan Commission for eighteen years and was for forty-three years an active member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church where he was a Senior Warden and heavily involved in the design and construction of a new addition.
Phil and Jo Ann are deeply indebted to St. Andrew’s Parish, as well as the Downers Community, for the love and support freely given during the last year as they both dealt with Phil’s advancing pancreatic cancer. Strange to say, thanks to that support, it was a good year.
Phil leaves behind his wife of fifty-eight years, Jo Ann nee Meadows, originally of Deming New Mexico, son Lon (Jodi) of Monument, Colorado, daughter Katherine (Rick) James of West Chester, Pennsylvania, and son John (Lyn) of San Francisco, California. He is also survived by nine grandchildren Cole Rand, Anya Blair, and Tess Elisabeth Matejczyk; Katherine Avery (Wade) Marks, and Whitney Ann and William Henry James; and John Lloyd, Martine Blair, and Hart Alonzo Matejczyk.
A celebration of Phil’s life will be held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Downers Grove, on Sunday, July 15, beginning with Greeting and Gathering at 2 pm and Celebration of Life Service at 3:30 pm. A reception will be held after the service.
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I just learnt of Phil’s passing and am so sorry for your loss.
I met Phil, together with Jim Sire, at Starbucks some 16 years ago. Phil and Jim, the odd couple, were a lifeline to me during a difficult time in my life. He’d show up with the Times in his hand after having walked 6-8 miles all over Downers.
I admired Phil. A doer. He had that grace and elegance that American men of his generation possessed.
Thank you for your friendship. I will always remember you.
Dear Jo Ann, I am sorry to just be learning of Phil’s death. I worked with Phil at Harza and was glad to see him at the annual Harza Alumni Lunch last year. We just had the luncheon earlier this week and missed his being with us this year. He was a great guy and a respected engineer and colleague. I will be advising the Harza alums of his passing.
Jo Ann, please accept my sincere condolences. Gene Kocian just informed us of the passing of Phil. I worked for many years with Phil in the business development group at Harza. More recently I met you and Phil at the Wednesday concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center. Earlier this year he told me about his disease. He was optimistic and in good spirit as always and we talked about his time bicycling with your son in Marin County and jogging in Lincoln Park. He was a great colleague and we will miss him.
I recently received the news of Phil’s passing. I worked closely with Phil for several years in the New Business Development Department at Harza. I can recall many great conversations and insights he shared with me. Lots of laughs and wise counsel.
He really loved sailing and talked about it a lot. He invited me and my wife several times to go on the sailboat when he moored it in downtown Chicago – a beautiful location and great summer evenings cooking brats.
When the boat was docked further north – perhaps Waukegan – my son and I went out with Phil and perhaps your son -whose name escapes me and perhaps another person. Once we were several miles away from shore it was discovered that water was entering the boat from the hole used by the propeller shaft. So here we were without power (the propeller shaft had slipped out and we were several miles off shore). Fortunately, the boat had a bung – a cone shaped piece of wood that is designed to fill that hole. The bung was installed, we were hand pumping the bilge water – we had to come into the fairly narrow inlet to the harbor under sail power. Phil had to call in to the harbormaster that it was a May-Day type of event. At the end his great skill as a sailor got us in to the port’s entrance and tied up to the dock. My son and I remember it – some 30 years later.
He was so proud of all of you all. I can hear him laughing and see his smile. I am sure he recalls the “may-day” event well.
He is missed