Phillip Neill Boreen

OBIT BoreenFeb. 25, 1952 – Aug. 6, 2016

Phillip Neill Boreen, 64, passed away August 6, 2016. Phil was the son of Glen and Isobel Boreen of Winlock, Washington. He graduated from Mt. St. Helen’s High School in Winlock. Growing up he spent many hours at the lumberyard and cabinetmaking business owned by his dad, uncle and grandfather and doing what small town kids do.

Barely 20 years old, Phil joined the Seattle Fire Department in 1972 and retired in 2000. In his off hours, he was shared with and employed by many public safety and industry audiences across the U.S. as a speaker on hazmat or and fire operations. Later in his career he was assigned to the northwest region’s Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Team, and enjoyed some time in eastern Washington on wildland urban interface operations.   Upon retirement, he kept his hand in by working for FEMA as an operations specialist from 2006-2013. His last deployment for FEMA was on Long Island after Sandy.

Phil married Judith Newton in 1973 and their daughter Misty was born in 1976.   They later divorced. While teaching at the National Fire Academy (NFA) in Maryland he met Katharine (Kate) Schaefer.   The romance that ensued between Montana and Seattle resulted in a wedding ceremony on a beach in Hawaii in 1991 and produced four children: Isobel (17), Karina (14), Nicole (13), and Nathaniel (12).

Phil has spent the last 14 years of his life on the hay and cattle ranch that he and Kate built together in northwestern Wyoming. A strong work ethic and building and construction experience were helpful in that venture. Pushing water, chemistry, and diesel equipment were already areas he had experience in as a fireman.   On the ranch he just used that knowledge in a different direction.   When the price of diesel went from $2 a gallon to $5 a gallon and he needed 10,000 gallons a year to stay in business on the ranch, he fabricated a system to make his own diesel. In trying to get established on an irrigated piece of ground in severe drought, he made water conservation and soil building his priorities. When he began using compost tea, hydrolyzed fish, lime, gypsum, and molasses applications versus other products on his ground he earned some lifted eyebrows from the neighbors. Most of whom offered much support and encouragement, and grew to become trusted friends over the years.

Phil’s life should also be remembered for the tremendous mentor, coach, and neighbor that he was. To build a double garage for an elderly friend, to roof a house just because, or spend a day installing a track lift for someone who was paralyzed and had lost her husband was just part of who he was.

Phil didn’t just “build things.” Phil built people through encouragement and helping them to realize their potential. If you mentioned this quality, he would just tell you about all the people who had believed in him, influenced him, and helped mold him into the man that he became.   He was an amazing father. If he took his kids to the circus… he took you there at daybreak to watch the tents go up. If you went to watch the hot air balloons, you ended up riding in the sky all the way from Cody to Powell. You were read a few pages of “Call of the Wild” every night while falling asleep, and if you were driving past a ball field you suddenly were parked and found yourself playing catch or shooting hoops with your Dad. He loved each of his children with all his heart.   He was passionate about life and all the opportunities life has to offer, and lived it intensely.

You are invited to a memorial service to honor Phil’s life. It will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Greybull, Wyoming on Saturday, Sept. 10th at 10 a.m. Lunch will be served. There will be no graveside ceremony. If you can’t attend and have a memory or photo to share please send to the Boreen Family, 1540 Lane 43 Basin, WY 82410.     Sentiments and memories will be cherished reminders to his kids of the positive impact that their dad had on many of us. He died too soon.