Phil Fillenworth
April 7, 1918 - June 14, 2009
Phil Fillenworth, 91, still a good air man, Lt Col. Retired, went to be with his Heavenly Father, at 11:50am Flag Day, Sunday, June 14, 2009 from Sanford Foundation Hospice Cottage. Many of his family and friends lovingly surrounded his bed thanking God for the blessing of being part of his life. He had been a heart patient for several years. Survivors include his wife, Susie; son, Donald (Cindy); two grandchildren, Mike, his son, (Canin) and Stacey (Al) and their soon to be born daughter. Phil also considered his wife's daughter Sarah, her husband Fred, and children, Brennen, Shae, and Brittney; Susie's son, Frank Aaron, his wife, Leslie, and their children, Olivia and Kyle as his own children and grandchildren. They had a spiritual daughter, Christina Ezzell and her two sons, Clayton and Truett. They spent time with him and he loved them all very much. His nieces and nephews in Cedar Rapids and surrounding area, Kansas City and Aurora, Colorado have visited frequently during the past few years. They also blessed to be grandparents to a very special South Korean exchange student, Di Yung Kim who attended Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, SD. Phil was born April 7, 1918, in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1919 his family moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where his father was employed by the Cherry-Burrell Corp. Phil attended elementary and high school there, graduated from Franklin High School in 1936. He attended Coe College. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 as a Private in the hopes of becoming a pilot. He retired from the United States Air Force 23 years later, in June 1965, as a Lt. Colonel and as Aircraft Commander of a B-52 bomber in the Strategic Air Command. His service included assignments in Italy, Japan, the Caribbean Area, Pakistan and England. One year of his career was spent on detached service with the United Nations as an observer during the civil war between India and Pakistan. His travels included many trips to Korea, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, Africa and South America. Phil was preceded in death by his parents, 4 brothers, 2 sisters and Theodora Bleck Fillenworth, his spouse of 48 years. Phil and Susie moved from Mansfield, Texas, to Sioux Falls in 2007, to a home in the McKennan Park area. They transferred membership from Walnut Ridge Baptist Church in Mansfield to Central Baptist Church here in Sioux Falls, where they have been active members. They moved to Trail Ridge Retirement Home where an active life of fun and expectations were enjoyed. In lieu of flowers, please direct memorial to Central Baptist Church, Trail Ridge Retirement Community or Sanford Hospice. A Celebration of Life will be held 11:30am Saturday, June 20, 2009 at Heritage Funeral Home including military rites and a luncheon. Internment will be at the Blackhills National Cemetery in Sturgis, SD.

Funeral Information




A Celebration of Life will be held 11:30am Saturday, June 20, 2009 at Heritage Funeral Home including military rites and a luncheon.


Internment will be at the Blackhills National Cemetery in Sturgis, SD.

Leslie Foss

I was so sorry to hear that Phil had passed. He was my father-in-law for 8 years and continued to be a friend after his son and I divorced. He was a very special man and I know that he will be missed dearly here on earth, but he now has a special place in Heaven. My sincere sympathies go out to his family.

Susie Fillenworth

It was such a privilige to have loved and cared for this wonderful, funny, literary, God fearing gentleman. In all our years of marriage I never heard him use our Lord's name in vain. He always was williing to open our doors to whom ever God or our pastor sent our way. He made himself scarce on Tuesday mornings in Texas when our ladies prayer group met for several hours. He and Sarah would go out for father-daughter breakfast or brunch. He never cringed when I would purchase decorations for our church in Mansfield, TX or here in Sioux Falls. We found out there is no way to ever out give God! My daughter Sarah spent every second with him while he was in the Hospice Cottage with out complaining. She and I both realized it was a privilege to help care for this wonderful man. He has given us memories we shal never forget.

Donna Henderson

I am so sorry to hear that Phil passed away. My heart goes out to you and the family, he will be very much be missed by many people. Phil was a ray of sunshine when he walked in the door. He always had kind words for everyone and made you feel so at ease and comfortable. He lived a good life and was very fortunate to have met you - you kept him going. You are blessed to have so many good memories and to know that you were loved.

Frank, Leslie, Olivio, and Kyle Agovino

Phil was a very special man. He made use feel very welcome when we came over to see him and mom. We went to Sioux Falls in April to spend the day with him and mom. We are glad we did because that was a very special day we had together. We toured Sioux Falls with them and he bought everyone ice cream at the falls. Phil had a very good day that day. We loved listening to his Air Force stories. Each story was different because he has flown almost all the planes in the Air Force. We loved having Phil as a father for the last 12 years. He has treated our mom with such respect and love. He was a great man and will be missed by our family.

Fred Krimmelbein

There are only3 men who've ever walked this earth I would consider to be a father. A long time ago a man named Earl came in to my life and taught me to be a man. He introduced me to Christ, the real father in my life. Christ brought Phil into to my life, through his marriage to Susie. I can't yet speak much of my relationship with Phil, it's too soon, but I do consider him to be the man who taught me what a loving husband should be like.

Daphne Means and family

I will dearly miss my Great-Uncle Phil. His brother, my Grandfather, Earl spoke so fondly of him and loved to share stories with us about his Air Force accomplishments. I was fortunate to get to know Phil more closely after my Grandfather passed in 1992. Phil reminded me of my Grandfather Earl so much that, unbeknownst to him, I secretly adopted him as my own Grandfather in my mind. It has been such a blessing from God to get to know he and Susie, and I have such fond memories of their trips to Kansas City to visit us. They have been there for the most important times in our family....and other times just because. I know he is in a better place now, and I pray that he watch over Susie with God's blessings and protection. We will miss you Uncle Phil!

Teresa Love

My precious precious friend, I am so very sorry for your loss. I know the days ahead will be long for you and the emptiness will be very difficult. I can only imagine the glorious moment it was when your precous Phil walked into the arms of God with no pain. What a wonderful moment that was. It won't be long before we all can be with Phil and our other loved ones that have gone before us. We will celebrate the love and everlasting life our heavenly father has given us. Please know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers! Much much love, Teresa and Rodney Love

The Frankenfields

Phil was a wonderful friend and we will miss him dearly. We will always cherish the time we had together. Susie, may God Bless you and keep you - give you strength and courage during a very difficult time in your life. Love, Barbara and Chuck

Richard & Gloria Carr

Dear Susie & Family, Please accept our deepest sympathy,at Phil's passing. It was truely a blessing to know him, & he will be greatly missed. Our love & prayers are with you all, Gloria & Richard

Joe and Bonnie Glover

Our prayers are with the Fillenworth family, .....We loved having y'all in the Coxes class...May God Bless you and keep you in his loving arms...jrg

Sally Dixon-Seekers Class in Mansfield

Susie, Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you go through this difficult time. I pray for the Lord to wrap His loving arms around you and give you peace. God Bless you, Sally and Bob Dixon

Leo & Doris Higdon

Susie, We are so sorry for your loss.Phil is so happy now, and has no more pain.We will be praying for you. In Christ, Leo & Doris

Steve and Marcy Cox

Dear Susie, Our hearts and prayers are with you at this time. You both were a special part of our lives while you were here in Mansfield, and our memories of Phil and his bible knowledge and his wonderful humor will always be fondly remembered and cherished. He is now in glory - Praise God! Amen and amen! We love you. Steve and Marcy Cox

Al and Shelia Betzel

Susie, So sorry to hear of Phil's passing, but wow is he loving where he is. He would not come back here for anything, and I know you know that. He is now with Jesus forever, and is free of pain and suffering. We must rejoice in that. It was a pleasure knowing him.

Christina Ezzell

I love this picture of Phil and Trooper - it makes me smile and remember some really sweet things. Phil was a beautiful blessing in my life, and opened his home and his heart to me and my boys at a tender time in my life. Phil had a laugh that was quite infectious and I laugh just remembering it. A generous spirit, an encouraging attitude, a love of music, a love of knowledge, a storyteller that made you want to be in the story, an appreciation for spiritual truth...these are a few things that come to mind when I think of Phil. Oh and he enjoyed a good conversation whether he was talking or listening. I have to say "thank you Phil for loving me, and being patient with me, and praying for me, and encouraging me, and pretending that I was the next Lena Horne :)...mostly though thank you for inviting me into your beautiful life!" Guess you don't need that scooter anymore. What's its like there anyway? Is it better than you imagined? I bet your singing something fierce.

Cathy, Doug & Children (Beach Bunch)

Mom, Words can not say how broken up our family was when we got the call from Sarah, just minutes after our Lord took Phil home. We know that Grampa Phil is in the Lords arms watching over us all and is making a home ready for us all to be able to rejoice together with him when we are the ones blessed to be called home. Mom, you have helped me in my teens years and showed me right from wrong so may times over the past 28 years. Phil and you always welcomed our family with open and loving arms. We were so happy that Phil put a sparkle in your eyes and a bounce in your step. The years went far to fast but take comfort in knowing that Phil is always in our hearts and you are always in our prayers. All of Our Love Cathy, Doug, Ashley, Chelsey Rea, Erin, Ajay, Caitlyn, Cheisie Mae and Chandler

John Fillenworth

Col. Phil Fillenworth was simply known as "uncle Walt" when he came home to Iowa. Uncle Walt and his three brothers were always there when Our country called them. His oldest brother actually fought against Pancho Villa. My father was in the infantry in WWII, was awarded the bronze star and was in the "Battle of the Bulge". Uncle Walt's youngest brother was in the secret service in Japan in WWII. Uncle Walts' exploits have been illuminated by many in these obituaries. Now I would like to tell you about the man who was the perfect hero for an 8 to 16 year old boy growing up after WWII during the "Cold War". He was the one brother who continued to carry on our countries work after WWII. I used to see him blow into town every couple of years, which set off dreams of heroic exploits as a pilot in the Statigic Air Command during the "Cold War". Every jet plane that flew over our home, along with the exciting sonic boom, must be my Uncle Walt. I knew my family was safe. My stories of him grew ever larger with each narration to my young cohorts, soon outgrowing Davy Crocket anf Roy Rogers. Now as an adult I realize that they really are "The Greatest Generation". They went through the Great Depression and WWII without asking "Why me?". Instead they rolled up their sleeves, went to work and said "Why not me". They gave my generation, the Baby Boomers, the greatest most beutiful and impeccable time in American history to grow up in. How great we had it!!! Now it's our turn to carry on and leave America as ethical and morally honorable as they entrusted us to be. To my uncle "Col. Walt Fillenworth" you Sir will be dearly missed. I love you greatly and I am sure, thanks to Jesus Christ, I will see you and the rest of my Family in the house that God has prepared for us. To my Aunt Susie, you have my love and I'll be here for you whenever you need me.

Charley Jones

The Heavenly Host is praising God and welcoming Phil. It was indeed a great blessing to have known him! Susie, my prayers are with you during this time of grief and, indeed, joy!

Marsha Jones(Mrs. Charley)

While I never yet have met Phil or Susie, I anticipate someday in Heaven I will. Often my husband following a business trip would fill me in on a visit he'd been privileged to make that had included his favorite part of a reunion with friends he'd made their in Sioux Falls-Phil and Susie. I knew that they were in God's plan of provision for a lengthy time of trials we were experiencing-His Hand of love extended to us; and now-we can thank you both for being faithful to obey the voice of God. Phil has entered into His reward and Susiel God will sustain you thru this period of loss here and your reunion there will be spectacular-none of us knowing when but relying on the strength of leaning upon Jesus and knowing the rest of the body of Christ continues to pray and lift you up day by day until that time when each of us does come before Him face to Face. We shall also has Phil has-BEHOLD Him and our joy will be more than we can imagine-until then we will go on singing. Blessings as you carry on and know you will be continually in our prayers. Mrs. Charley Jones

Donna Pesch

Susie Phil was such a special man!.Don and I always enjoyed spending time with you and Phil, especially the dinners in your home. He was an amazing story teller. I loved hearing about his life. He was such an interesting man. My sincere empathy to you Susie and your family. He will be dearly missed! I bet Don and Phil will have plenty to talk about in heaven while they are both watching over us. All my love Donna

Steve and Jeanne Paulson

Our most memorable time with Phil was when he and Suzie spent time with our us in September 2005. It was a super time when Phill spoke with us about the memorable time he had spent while in the Air Force. SInce Steve was also a AF retiree they were able to exchange stories. He very much enjoyed the tour of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. We were given a tour of the training facilities when left Phil in awe. He was walking proudly through the training facilites as if he was still on Active Duty. On the following Saturday we were abile to upgrade our Air Force football tickets and were a able to attend the pre-game BBQ in the large press box area at the game. The icing on the cake was when Air Force beat San Diego State. He was still talking about this event when we visited Phil and Suzie in May. What a historian!! Blessed be his memory, We'll always love you!!

Stacey & Al Estrada

I am very proud to be the grandaughter of Phil Fillenworth. I have so many memeories that I will cherish of Grandpa when I was growing up. I know myself and my brother Mike will truly miss him. He ment so much to us both.

Susie Fillenworth

HIGH FLIGHT (A Pilot's Prayer) Oh, Ihave slipped the surly bonds of earth. And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings, Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long delirious, burning blue I've topped the wind swept heights with easy grace, Where never lark, or even eagle, flew: And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod The high untrespassed sancity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. John Gillespie Magee, Jr. In December 1941, Pilot Officer John Magee, a 19 year old American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in England, was killed when his Spitfire collided with another aircraft inside a cloud. Several months before his death, he composed his immortal sonnet "High Flight", a copy of which he fortunately mailed to his parents in the United States. Steve Paulson read this at Phil's Celebration of Life. While I miss Phil more than words or tears can say, as John Magee's family must also feel, we are blessed to know our special Fly Boys are with God and some day we will be together again in Heaven as His children! Thank you dear God for Your peace which passes all earthly understanding and the Christian brothers and sisters you have given us for love and comfort here on earth.

Sarah Krimmelbein

Sometimes in your life you get the rare opportunity to give back to someone all the love and kindness they gave you. I am blessed to have been given just that. Our story begins back in the spring of 1998, when I got to meet the man my mom would later marry. To look at him you could not miss his kind eyes. If you could pick a mate for your parent, Walter Fillenworth would be it. Simple words could never say enough, doting husband, and grandparent, father, loving, giving, strong, generous, wise, funny, caring, supportive, trustworthy, and larger than life at times. He taught me that even though people let you down, you must never stop giving others a chance. Walter “Phil” and I got to be very close. We started out one awkward day going to lunch at the Olive Garden and found that we both loved books, shopping, ice cream. It got to be an every week thing where we would go out. It is amazing how close you can get to someone. They say little girls idolize their Daddy’s and even though Phil was not my biological father, he was in every other way my Dad. He saw things the same way I did, we laughed at the same jokes, and we enjoyed just being together. He lifted me up and believed in me even when I couldn’t. I was so blessed to have eleven wonderful years getting to know him. When they told us there was nothing else we could do for him but keep the pain under control, I thought I might die, but G_d gave me nine more weeks to become OK with what was happening. The last twelve days with Phil were some of, if not the hardest days of my life to date, but I would not change one hour of it. It was a blessing to help care for the man that not only loved my mom, but also loved me as a daughter. I thank G_d for giving me the grace I needed to help care for Phil. Anyone who knows me, knows I am not the nurturing type. Those twelve days at hospice were a gift. I got to give love I never knew I had to give, praise be to G_d. I got to serve Phil and watched as he left this life and went to be with G_d. Though my heart is sad that I won’t gt to feel his hugs right now, I know that there will be one there for me when my time comes to join Phil with Christ. Phil, you will always be my Daddy.

Max & Gloria Bleck

Max and Gloria want to express our sincere condolences at the passing of Phil to the entire Fillenworth family and especially to Susie his devoted wife. We were so pleased when Phil and Susie married to spend the balance of their lives together. Phil became a member of the Bleck family with his first marraige to my sister, Teddy. Phil's military career in aviation and mine in civil aviation provided a special bond between us even though our periods of visitation were widely spaced. We were so thankful that both Susie and Phil exhibited a desire to stay "connected" to us and my sister- in-law, Donna Bleck. Their stopover visits were always a joy and informative with family talk. Our very best to you, Susie, lets stay in touch! Love, Gloria and Max

Shae Krimmelbein

Tsubasa no Kokoro (wings of heart) Running, Trying to get away, Away from all these feelings. What caused this to happen? How did I end up here? I see you in the distance, I chase after you, Reaching out my hand. I beg you to wait, You do not hear me. I fall, You do not see me. I call out your name, You do not answer. I reach you, But you are no longer there. The secret, That I never told you, That nobody knows about. It tears at my broken and bleeding heart. I attempt to regain composure, But my hopes, My dreams, My fears, And my memories of you, They tear me apart, All over again. These feelings Are inescapable. It's as if I'm trapped in A cage, With no hope of release. I watch the clouds overhead, And pray for wings. My heart, My mind, Body, And soul, Wish for the freedon of the sky. You silently return. You stand at the door, You look inside, While i gaze out. You open the door, And leave. I cry out your name, I plead with you to stay, I reach out to your fading form. You turn, A soft smile upon your lips, Still you do not answer. Your smile in my memories, And your strength in my heart, I will never forget you, For you gave my heart wings. Thank you~, I'll meet you on the other side, Farewell.

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