Philip Dennis Heim “Uncle Phil”

Born on 04/22/1936

Departed on 02/08/2017

Resided in Fredericksburg, VA

Philip Dennis “Uncle Phil” Heim, 80, beloved husband, father, brother and friend, passed away peacefully on February 8, 2017.

A longtime resident of Fredericksburg, he was affectionately known by many as “Uncle Phil.”  Phil was born in North Liberty, Indiana to the late Philip and Florence Dennis Heim.  He graduated from Liberty Township High School in North Liberty, Indiana in 1954. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  After initially swabbing decks, he landed a gig playing accordion in the Admiral’s Jazz Band in Virginia Beach.  Spending his days on the beach and his nights playing music, he took a fancy to the spoon bread served at the Surrey Cafeteria, or possibly the young lady serving the spoon bread, Shirley O. Conrad.

Phil Heim and Shirley Conrad were married on August 18, 1957 and remained married for 52 years, until Shirley’s passing in October 2009.  In 1957, Phil and Shirley settled in to build their life in Fredericksburg. One of their mutual passions was dancing.  They worked together to form the local dance troupe, The GoodTime Cloggers.

Phil became a fixture in the local music scene.  He was an original member and the first director of the Fredericksburg Big Band.  Phil would sit in or fill in with about every band in town at the time as he could play any style of music with anyone.  He fluidly played big bass, piano, accordion, clarinet and guitar.  Given his multi-genre musical talent, one might have heard him play jazz, pop, traditional standards or western swing.   These genres took him to stages as far as Czechoslovakia and as renowned as the Kennedy Center and White House inaugurations.

Phil received a bachelor of science with high honors from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1974 and subsequently a master of science from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1976.  Highlights of his career include his work helping youth as principal of the Rouser Center in the Stafford County School System when the center was used as a vocational school for students needing an alternative educational path.  He found his niche as vice president of Northern Neck Distributing Company where he spent the last twenty plus years of his career.

Phil served on local boards including the Fredericksburg School Board and the Fredericksburg YMCA.  He was an active member in the Navy’s Musician Association.   He was a founding member of the non-profit Virginia Music Hall of Fame and Museum in its quest to become a reality.

In 2011, Phil published a children’s book in honor of his wife, “The Thistlewhistles” as he was also a talented writer.  Most recently he was gathering years of poems and short stories for publication.  Other notable hobbies included his love of horses, archeology, and a genuine passion for learning.

Phil was a good man, unique, authentic, kind and wearing a perpetual smile.  He will be deeply missed.

Survivors include his daughter, Aileen Heim (T. Campbell) of Fredericksburg; sister Phyllis Tuholski (Larry); brothers Jim Coppens (Teresa) and Bud Hough (Barb); many nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; and sister, Cheryl Heim Rizek.

A memorial service will be held at Noon on Saturday, Feb. 18 at The Riverside Dinner Theater. A Celebration of Life will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Heart and Vascular Center of the UVA Health System,  P.O.  Box 800354, Charlottesville, Va. 22908 or payable to “The Virginia Music Hall of Fame and Museum” c/o Phil Heim, 1600 Franklin St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401.

32 thoughts on Philip Dennis Heim “Uncle Phil”

  1. Susan Barber on said:

    A great story teller. He will be missed

  2. Kelly Lowe-Williams on said:

    Ally, I am blessed to have your family as part of mine for my entire life! Phil will be sorely missed. Hugs to you! You are in my thoughts and prayers. May the great memories of a wonderful family help you through this difficult time. Love, kelly

  3. Harry Roberson on said:

    Part of my heart is gone. I will always miss my friend, mentor and musical companion of 40+ years.

  4. Julie Pfeifle on said:

    I just learned so much about your dad, Ally… what an incredible man! Thinking of you lots…

  5. Mark Newton on said:

    Love that man. RIP.

  6. Tuffy Hicks on said:

    My sincere prayers and condolences to the family. Phil was a wonderful friend for over fifty years. He will be missed by the Fredericksburg community.

  7. Roberta Mullen White on said:

    Sending love and prayers during this difficult time. Enjoyed our times together with Phil over the years.

  8. Michael & Sylvia Grill on said:

    You will be missed very much.

  9. Barry surles on said:

    Very sorry to hear about your Dad. It was always joyful to watch him play music. I hope you will find peace.

  10. Patti Buttram Brooks on said:

    I always enjoyed every encounter with Phil. He was a superb musician with a wonderful personality and always had that smile on his face. Fredericksburg has lost one of the “good ones”. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

  11. John Wayne Edwards on said:

    Gonna miss you, you clever rascal. Enjoyed our breakfasts together and our work on Thistlewhistles. Going to miss the music and playing with you. Love you buddy. RIP

  12. Melissa Pritchett Tolson on said:

    His friendship meant so much to me. He and Ally were family to us. I will miss his humor and kindness. He was a great man!!

  13. Kim Holt Adams on said:

    Ally, what a wonderful tribute to your Dad. He had such a full life and enriched so many others. Love and prayers for Phil and you.

  14. David Belman on said:

    So sorry to hear of Phil’s passing. Thoughts and prayers to the family. He will be missed!

  15. Larry G Snellings on said:

    Ally & family, I am sorry to hear about the passing of your dad. I have many fond memories of “Uncle Phil”! I will always remember uncle Phil playing music with his close friend Terrence Simien. I will always remember uncle Phil playing music and telling stories at my friends October Fest parties. I will always remember uncle Phil playing on Wed. Nights at La Petite. It was always a pleasure to connect with Phil and enjoy his great music and funny stories. Uncle Phil always brought a smile to my heart and will be deeply missed! He was a classic, one of a kind! Father God, please reveal Yourself to Allie & family! Please fill their hearts with your everlasting love, peace, comfort & healing. In Jesus name I pray! Faith! Hope! & Love!

  16. Frank Sealy on said:

    Phil,you are missed and a chasm in my life RIP. Always remember when we first met at Winkie Pitts service station in Sept. of 1959.
    I pray for strength for your family of this tremendous loss. God bless ,bye Phil.

  17. Bob Lane on said:

    Ally:Phil was my friend for over fifteen years. He was a wonderful man and I will surely miss him. May God give you the strength to adjust to life without him.

  18. Penny peers on said:

    Dearest Ally, first I think of your loss and then that of the community of friends and musicians who will sorely miss Phil’s smile and personality. Gosh, your parents were friends for nearly 50 years, and, man did we share some great moments when your dad took over when a musician took a break…he really brought the house down and even out of the kitchen. You will be in my thoughts and heart, Fondly Penny Peers

  19. Robin Hayden on said:

    Ally, There is great sadness in hearing of your dad’s passing. Every time we spoke on the phone I grew to hope that I would someday get a chance to meet him. I’m sure he was very proud of you and glad you were there for him throughout his challenging times. There is no comfort right now, but comfort will come in knowing that we are all destined for the same conclusion, and that your dad made a difference in a lot of lives he touched along his way. Hold tight, your friend Robin.

  20. Bill DeVos on said:

    Ally, I was so shocked when you called. Whether it was his paper route he turned over to me when we were kids, our accordion lessons together, Navy reserve time, or a couple of gigs we played together, he was always ‘Denny’ to me. We’ll all miss Denny’s sense of humor,creativity, intellect, ambition … even his funny/ornery side. My condolences to you and the extended family … w’re all going to miss my friend.

  21. Dick Sponseller on said:

    Grew up with “Denny” in North Liberty! Great friend then and after reconnecting after nearly 50 years! Will have the privilege of conducting Phil’s home going service as I did Shirley’s.
    I know Phil is safe at home as I will be sharing.
    Praying for you Alli and peace for you.

  22. Shelby Thomas (Bill DeVos) on said:

    Ally, Bill and I drove to Fredericksburg several times to visit Denny. I enjoyed very much being with him listening to him playing the piano and according…and being with you at the country home. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  23. LINDA GILLISPIE on said:

    To Phil’s family, we are so very sorry for your loss. I met Phil and Shirley thru my mom, Gloria Snellings. Mom drove the school bus in Stafford, and enjoyed working with Shirley. We enjoyed the times we would go and watch them clogg. They were definitly a wonderful couple and admired by many. They will definitly be missed by all. Thoughts and prayers to the family.

    Linda Gillispie and Roland Snellings

  24. Judy & Stan Mate on said:

    Ally, our heartfelt condolences to you.

  25. Bob Lane on said:

    May God keep and bless you, Phil. You were a real friend. Bob Lane

  26. Becky Guy on said:

    I first met your mother in 1961 when I began teaching at Jayem and she was at Maury. Only later did Shirley introduce me to “Phil” which is how I always knew him from then on. Of course, I enjoyed his extraordinary musical talents, his sense of humor, his cogent remarks on education and educators especially when he was at Rowser [I was in Stafford at that time]. Later, I was deeply touched at his attempt to eulogize his long-time friend, Joe Ulman. His tears halted him midstream but revealed to us in attendance a glimpse of the very sensitive, caring, loyal side of Phil that we all benefited from. There will be a BIG hole in the “sound” of Fredericksburg’s music scene but his contributions and foundation will live on! He was a legend in his life–a legend that will live on in our hearts.

  27. Bill Doan on said:

    Denny and I grew up in a little country town, North Liberty, IN. I subbbed once in a while on his paper route. I remember seeing him at the annual North Liberty Alumni banquet when he and his fellow classmates celebrated 50 years graduating from high school. I, like him and Bill DeVos, a classmate of mine, was in the Navy (retired). May he have fair winds and a following sea. He will be missed but not forgotten as he will live on in the memories of all who knew him.

  28. Kendra Triplett on said:

    He never called me by my name, always by my nickname “BUG”. I was a Good Time Clogger “groupie ” so to speak, and always was at their competitions and shows. You were a great man Uncle Phil, and I am honored to have known you and loved you.

  29. Coco Mann on said:

    My dear friends, My thoughts go out to you today as you say goodbye and celebrate our beloved friend, Phil. He will indeed be missed by all. He was one who could always brighten the darkest of days with his friendship and mentoring. My most sincere condolence to you all.

  30. Elizabeth (Betsy) Wright on said:

    Aileen, I was stunned to find out your father just died. That is such a huge loss and your gracious offer on this past Friday shows the apple doesn’t fall far the tree. You are a perfect reflection of both of your parents. Where does one start? Much of what I would say has been spoken above. Your father touched to many through so many different paths, music being one of the most visible public stages. You family was introduced to mine during 1968 when your mom was in charge of the Head Start program and appreciated the support of my dad turning that from a limited summer program into a larger school year program. The vision of all of our parents often worked synergistically that rose the cultural tide in Stafford by nautical miles, not inches. How many know your mom was foundational in creating the three year Federal “Humanities” grant that evolved into the elite Governor’s School for the Gifted? I’m sure your father’s love of music fueled a great partnership in their marriage. Through my dad’s/your mom’s professional collaboration we all met Phil. My sister’s life was expressly deepened with their shared love of music. Barbara’s birthday is coming up and I asked her if having a party works out, who would she like to invite. You and your dad were two of three names she mentioned. To be on B’s A list shows “status.” Words fail me, my heart goes out to you. I’m glad your dad was so loved, so well respected, and cherished. What he dished out is solidly reflected back in his memory. I hope these facts/truths as a comfort now and in the future. Few people have folks as solid as your father in their life.

  31. Linda Govenides on said:

    Dearest Ally,
    It was and is one of my greatest blessings to have had the oppertunity to be a part of the Heim household. Shared music, love, laughter, food the good and the bad times. Your mom would say “jump”, and we all did. She gave me such encouragement and credit. The naming of the school and the crazy limo ride will never be forgotten. The long ordeal of cancer, watching the grace, strength and courage was truly amazing and a privilege. Truly a warrior. Phil was a delight, funny, talented, sincere, always had your mom’s back, loving man. They loved each other and delighted in their humor and music in their souls. They loved their daughter and loved doing things for you. Ally you and the world were delivered such a gift of your mom and dad, Mr. and Mrs.Phil Heim. May their memory be eternal.
    With love and thanksgiving,
    Linda Govenides

  32. Thomas Cocke IV on said:

    Aileen, My deepest condolences my best friend. Your parents were tremendous people and raised a supurb daughter. May the strength of knowing that help you through these trying times. We must get together to share stories. I always enjoyed your parents company and good times with them. With Live and a hug, shoulder and ear when you need it. TFC IV

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