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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Phil Link passes away at 92

The first time I ever met Phil Link, it was the fall of 1992. I was working at a sandwich shop here in Reidsville and Phil came into the place. I wound up being the one who made sandwiches for he and his wife.

Phil started to gab like crazy! He asked me what my name was, and then told me a bit about himself. Turned out that he ran a well-known pharmacy in town. And he was also a writer who had published some books. Naturally, being an 18-year old who was dreaming - and am still dreaming years later - of finding success as a writer, I found myself hooked onto whatever wit and wisdom that this guy had to share. And it so happened that whenever he came into the shop, Phil always had something profound (and often funny) to lend to my eager ear. A lot of that stuff has wound up woven into my own works over the years, and I've never failed to think back on our conversations whenever Phil came into the place.

Somewhere at my parents' house I still have that pale blue business card that Phil gave me the night we first met, which billed himself as a "writer, painter, raconteur" and a few other odd words, including that he was the sole proprietor of "the world famous Muckenfuss Truss". On the back of the card gave instructions to say this line five times as fast as you could, and that you would never cease to gain attention with it...

"You'll never fuss with a Muckenfuss Truss"

Phil Link, one of the last of the real renaissance men and among the most colorful characters in Reidsville history, has passed away at the age of 92.

I didn't know until I read this story that Phil was college roomies with the late country comedian and Hee Haw regular Archie Campbell. He also did portraits of well-known people, including one of Willie Nelson that hangs over Nelson's fireplace. Phil did once tell me about how at age 67, he literally ran off to join a circus (but he mostly did it to do paintings of circus life).

Phil was a bit of a curmudgeon, and maybe even came across as somewhat self-deprecating. But it didn't take long to realize that it was all part of his act that he did to get to know people... and I can't help but believe that it was also his own way of encouraging others to think more and to think different. Phil was outrageous, outgoing, definitely a flamboyant personality but it was never legitimately pretentious. He was just a guy who wanted ever moment of his life to have meaning. And to have a lot of fun along the way.

Phil leaves behind a son and daughter, who also followed in their father's footsteps by pursuing art. He also leaves behind many, many friends and admirers.

And with his absence, Reidsville definitely feels a lot emptier.


Brandi Snyder said...

Beautiful tribute to a man who, indeed, made every second count. He impacted every person who had the good fortunate to engage him in conversation. I treasure his books and the memories I have of him. He is sorely missed.