Phil Stark

16 May 2019
Phil Stark

John Philip Stark recently passed away at the age of 73. Phil worked at Carleton for 33 years with many different titles, beginning in 1980 as the Director of Media Services and retiring in 2013 as the Technical Coordinator for Events in College Relations. Phil was not only technically skilled but also cared deeply about each event happening well. He often worked evenings and weekends to help make last minute programs come off smoothly or coax finicky sound and lighting systems into working. He did it all so well that most people didn’t notice his presence.

Phil was also dedicated to Carleton and its faculty, staff, and students and appreciated the college’s quirky side. He will be greatly missed. At Phil’s request, mo memorial service will be held.

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  • May 16 2019  8:50 pm
    Bob Sullivan
    Phil was a perfect fit for Carleton. When I came aboard in '79-'80, he did everything we needed in the technical side of our football program without ever complaining. He was indeed one of a kind.
  • May 16 2019  9:24 pm
    Kerry Raadt
    To most people, he was Phil. To me, he was always John Philip, and it was my privilege for many years to work with him at Carleton. In the latter part of his career, I was officially his supervisor. But I considered him more as a colleague, an advisor, and a friend. Prior to coming to Carleton, Phil spent the decade of the ’70s at WCAL-FM, the public radio station at St. Olaf College, absorbing the standards and expectations of broadcasting, much of which applied to event production. He also provided sound system service for many of St. Olaf’s events. Coming to Carleton in August 1980, Phil accepted responsibility for wide ranging audiovisual services. As technical coordinator for college events, Phil was responsible for supporting countless public events at Carleton each year. Phil’s knowledge and skill were unquestioned. Lecturers, performing artists, and professional audiovisual contractors brought to campus for large scale events consistently commented that in other venues they rarely had an opportunity to work with an on-site technical coordinator who had the level of expertise that Phil possessed. Phil not only had the technical skills but also an excellent sense of the myriad elements necessary for effective public events. His concern was always for the overall event, not just the specific components he had been asked to provide. And while demonstrating great attention to detail, he also clearly understood how individual events fit into the overall mission of the college. He continuously developed ideas for improving the ways in which events are produced. Tirelessly working many evenings and weekends, Phil was always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to assure excellence for Carleton’s events. Clearly the consistent success of Carleton’s ambitious program of public events would not have been possible had it not been for Phil’s energy, commitment, and creativity. Phil’s motto was: “It will be done, done on time, and done with excellence.” Most people, however, don’t know all that is involved behind the scenes of an event, and that’s the way Phil knew it should be. “If an event is produced properly,” Phil said, “nobody will know you’re there. The best job that I can do is to be invisible to the audience.” I tended to feel a bit guilty whenever someone complimented me on a successful event, because I knew it was often Phil who made me look good. After 33 years of service to Carleton College, Phil retired in 2013. Fortunately for me, our friendship continued. Phil would pop up at my office every couple of weeks to share an old Carleton memory he recalled or something interesting he saw on television or to demonstrate some clever gadget he had just purchased online. I could always count on him showing up to inspect my work at major college events. There’s no denying that Phil was quirky; but then, he worked at a place where that’s perhaps the norm. Phil was also incredibly smart. Phil had a huge heart. And because he shared a piece it with me, my life was the better for it. I will miss him.
  • May 17 2019  8:18 am
    Sarah Forster

    I am one of many who will miss Phil deeply. He was truly a Carleton character: dedicated to excellence, smart, kind, able to see the big picture and attend to small details, willing to help, generous with his time, and someone who marched to his own drum. When I joined Carleton professionally in our stewardship office, it was Phil who helped me to understand the myriad of details behind the scenes that made for a good event, and it was he who almost always had an idea or suggestion at the ready for how programs might be improved to further the mission of the college. He was one of a kind.

  • May 17 2019  8:28 am
    Linda Mueller
    Phil was my "go-to" guy for all things event related. He would always take the time to meet with me to ensure he understood what it was I wanted to accomplish with an event and then he quietly went about his work to make it all happen. I'm thankful for the opportunity to see him recently at yet another Carleton function. RIP Phil. You have certainly left your mark on Carleton.
  • May 17 2019  8:35 am
    Melinda Russell
    I was just thinking of Phil yesterday, musing on the number of people who have been hired to do the many jobs he did at Carleton. The music department was only one of many constituencies Phil served. The minute Phil was on the job, you knew he had an eye out for everything, even if (as happened) he was simultaneously running something across campus, praying he'd trained his student workers well enough that he could cover both. Somehow, he seemed simultaneously harried and calm. Performers instantly recognized in him a professional who would anticipate their needs and who was invested in making it a great night. Phil always wanted to understand the event as a whole, and something about the performers. Expectations for college-level events rose steadily while Phil was here, and he exceeded them anyway, while being responsible for technology that was constantly evolving. And he did all this at a time when you couldn't text or call people mid-job. Rest well, Phil.
  • May 17 2019  9:39 am
    Melissa Flynn Hager
    I worked at Carleton for 22 years and remember seeing Phil hard at work at various events. It was clear he loved his work and cared deeply about the college. I didn't often cross paths with him and didn't know him well, but we said "hello" to one another. He was one of the distinctive people I remember who made Carleton Carleton.
  • May 17 2019  9:43 am
    Christopher Tassava, CFR
    I'm very sorry to hear of Phil's passing. He was a good colleague and of course an expert AV guy! Soon after I started at Carleton, he gave me some charmingly no-nonsense instructions about using the projectors for a meeting I was running, and then hung around to make sure I did it right! He'll be missed.
  • May 17 2019  9:52 am
    Jaye Lawrence
    What I'll remember most about Phil is that he was so unfailingly kind to me. No matter how busy or stressed he might be, he always took that extra moment to pause, smile, greet me by name and share a good word or story. Godspeed, Phil, and thank you.
  • May 17 2019  11:23 am
    Stephanie Cox

     I had the pleasure to work with Phil my first year and he helped me set up for the Lost Bayou Ramblers who played at Carleton. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Thank goodness Phil was a pro and super resourceful, but also, I'm grateful that he was sweet and patient with me. He went out of his way for me. Every time I saw him after that, he always said hello and stopped to chat with me. What a gentle and generous person. I'm sure he will be missed. My thoughts are with his friends and family.

  • May 17 2019  1:10 pm
    Becky Zrimsek

    As other people have noted, Phil was unfailingly kind, brilliant at his work, and was always learning. He took deserved pride in the impact of his work on making sure every type of event and program was successful, not just the "big" ones. Always behind the scenes and so supportive... we will miss Phil.

  • May 18 2019  1:56 pm
    Michael Kowalewski
    I was saddened to hear that we’ve lost Phil. My memories of him all have an impish tinge to them. Phil was Carleton’s Artful Dodger (whether dashing around on campus to set up, day or night, for yet another event, or zipping around the east-side neighborhood on his scooter). He was already an indispensable fixture at Carleton by the time I arrived in 1991 and he remained so for many years after. He was constantly setting up equipment before anyone else arrived, constantly being turned to – at a Convo or a faculty retreat – when something went awry with the audio or a presentation. Phil was always there, on the edge of the crowd, a wry observer and an invaluable help, quietly making sure all the trains ran on time. He will be greatly missed.
  • May 18 2019  2:49 pm
    Stephen Kelly
    I first new Phil when he would record Carleton music events for WCAL's "College Concert" series in the 70s. He was always meticulous and accomplished even when, or especially when, the group or situation was the most challenging. Then when he came to us at Carleton, we in the Music Department always knew he would be THERE, on time and ready to do the job well. He was also an excellent recording engineer, for my research converting a thirty-year-old reel-to-reel tape of a live concert with many flaws into a digitized version whose quality literally made me gasp when I heard the final product. He was not only expert at his jobs, but also devoted to Carleton, available any day, any hour. An interesting and kind person, he will be missed.
  • May 21 2019  1:13 pm
    Scott Tome/Live Sound Co.

    What a privilege to have been Phil’s compatriot for many events at Carleton College since the ‘90s. We shared many memories of events that helped define and contribute to the spirit of Carleton. Phil was an integral part of that spirit. I’ll always be grateful for having known and worked with him.

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