Well Done

Phil Carboy, June 27, 1927–June 5, 2011

obituary by Deirdre Helfferich, publisher of The Ester Republic

Phil Carboy, longtime proprietor with his wife Genevieve of Gold Hill Liquor & Gas, died in June, and at the funeral and memorial services a goodly number of Fairbanks and Ester-area residents turned out to honor him. Phil was well remembered for his generosity, special spaghetti and super-secret garlic bread recipe that he couldn’t help but tell people how to make, and what was described in his Fairbanks Daily News-Miner obituary as “a passion for conversation”—an understatement if ever I saw one. Phil could talk your socks off. My husband Hans gave a demonstration at the memorial of the “Gold Hill two-step,” the dancing lessons that Phil inadvertently gave to much of the area’s population when his conversations with his customers became so prolonged that his listener’s bladders would start to provoke some pretty interesting dance steps before they could break off the discussion and hustle to the restroom. Despite the inevitable need for a relief break, talking with him was definitely engrossing and interesting; the man was knowledgeable and a character.

The Ester Republic was one of the beneficiaries of Phil’s noted willingness to take a chance on people. Gold Hill was one of the first retail outlets to try selling the Republic, selling the very first issue. When I asked Phil about the possibility of selling it, he took on a gruff demeanor (and Phil could be quite intimidating when he wanted to) and told me, “It’ll never sell.” But he went ahead and gave it a try. It sold out. When I came back in with the next issue, he told me that it must have been a fluke. Then the second issue sold out. The Republic was a fluke forever after at Gold Hill, whether it sold out or not, and Phil ribbed me for years every time I brought in a new issue.

Phil and his family have been generous supporters over the years of the Ester library, another community institution near to my heart. They’ve donated to numerous good causes of all kinds, allowing the store walls and counterspace to be decked with posters and handbills about various events, supplied wine and other auction items or spaghetti, and offered advice (especially Phil!). He and Genevieve have supported Cleanup Day and park work parties by supplying hot dogs and soda to the volunteers, and served as Parade Marshals in the Ester Fourth of July parade, most recently this year (Genevieve was driven by their daughter Susan, and I’m sure Phil was there in spirit).

I am glad that I was fortunate enough to have made his acquaintance, and glad to live in a community that has benefited from the kind of support that Phil and his family have given Ester. He set a good example for how to conduct one’s life. Every town needs more people like Philip Carboy.

Donations in his memory may be sent to the Monroe Foundation, PO Box 71620, Fairbanks, AK 99707 (or call 907.456.7970), or to the John Trigg Ester Library, PO Box 468, Ester AK, 99725.