Phil Ross loved boats, snowmobiles and the outdoors. But most of all, Phil loved people.
His Washburn, Wisconsin repair and retail shop, Ross Marine, was as much a social center as it was a retail operation. On any given day, you'd encounter a handful of locals chatting with Phil while his wife Jan labored in the back of the shop.
Phil was a past chairman of the Washburn Chamber of Commerce, an avid outdoorsman and snowmobile enthusiast (a member of the Washburn Val Hellers snowmobile club) and a sort of town historian. I learned more about Washburn area history from chatting with Phil than I ever found in a book or travel guide.
He was also a genuinely nice fellow who would take time away from whatever he was doing to help someone. Boat owners counted on Phil and his crew to take care of necessary repairs and to button up their boats for the winter each year.
I was first introduced to Phil about twelve years ago by my friend Ric Gillman (a well-known guitarist and songwriter who has performed many times at Big Top Chautauqua and on Madeline Island). Ric is the chartermaster for the Apostle Island Yacht Charter Association (AIYCA) and he connected me with Phil when I brought my 27-foot power boat to the Island.
Phil will be sorely missed, not only by folks in Washburn and the Chequamegon Bay area, but also by the many summer residents and Lake Superior boating enthusiasts who had the privilege of getting to know him.