Philip L. Weintraub, July 28, 1948 – October 15, 2010
Photo courtesy Phil's Facebook profile pic
Phil Weintraub died, unexpectedly, in his sleep in the early morning of October 15, 2010 at the age of 62. Though I liked Phil and enjoyed each of our encounters, we’d known each other for only a few years and weren’t close friends. Yet, Phil touched our family’s life in a profound way.
This is an excerpt from the e-mail I received from Dan Schlaack, the director of the 2007 event, An Evening with the Stars, benefiting Autism Speaks, notifying us of Phil’s death:
“When we wanted to tell our audience the heartfelt story of Ben Royko and his family during the Oscar party at NBC, Phil went above and beyond to make this happen. Without hesitation, he donated an enormous amount of time and talent working closely with Dave and Karen to compile images, develop a script, and edit hours of footage in order to present this story of a family's battle with autism to the crowd that night. It was a beautiful and poignant moment only made possible because of Phil's efforts.”
Every encounter I had with Phil was positive and touched with humor. Whenever we tried to thank him for the, he countered by sincerely thanking us for giving him the opportunity. Hearing the tributes about him at his funeral, I now know how much that simply was Phil. He seemed to be that rarest type of person who was happiest doing genuine good for others, especially those whom he felt really needed it.
Another line in Schlaak’s e-mail really hit me: “Phil did not have a child with autism…” Nor, apparently, a grandchild or other close family member. It was through a friend’s struggle with it that brought Phil to Autism Speaks and the event. This as much as anything speaks to Phil’s true nature. Many, if not most of us, come to enter the world of autism – or AIDS, or cancer, or schizophrenia, or, or, or… – directly, and by necessity, because of a child or grandchild or other immediate relative.
Not Phil. Yet enter our world of autism he did, and with such a deep grasp of what it means to those who have HAD to grapple with it, that he created a work of heart-rending beauty that continues to move the many viewers the documentary receives through my website. And this was only some of what he did for the benefit. His involvement and the hours he donated were huge.
Phil, if you were here, I have no doubt you would, once again, try to turn it around, but this time, unfortunately, mine will be the last word:
Phil, thank you.
October 18, 2010