It is with a heavy heart that it is my sad duty to let you know that our Moderator of many years, Phil Hodgkins, passed away June 7. As some of you may have known, Phil’s wife passed away in January and subsequently Phil decided to move from his home in Savannah, Georgia to Valdez, Alaska to live with one of his four sons. In a fortuitous coincidence my wife Chrissy and I were planning a trip to Yellowstone at the exact time Phil anticipated going through there himself. We have conversed many times over the years by email, text and phone regarding NPN and general life issues but had never met in person. We were able to meet at the Madison Campground June 3 and spent the early morning June 4 shooting the Yellowstone Canyon together and with Mark Seaver later in the day. We parted company that evening as Phil wanted to get some rest and set off early the next morning for Helena, Montana. We noticed his campsite was empty the morning of June 5 and figured he was safely on his way.
Over the next week or so I didn’t attempt to make contact as we were travelling and I figured Phil was most likely in the wilds of Canada and probably out of touch. I did send an email or two but didn’t think much of it when he didn’t reply. I started to get a bit more concerned though when he didn’t respond to my texts and his phone went straight to voicemail. I remembered Phil had mentioned that on an earlier trip to Valdez he had gone out shooting with fellow NPN member Gary Minish. Gary responded to my email to him that he had been anticipating going shooting with Phil after his arrival in Valdez but had run into Phil’s son who informed Gary that Phil had passed away in Helena. I have since found out from Phil’s son Daniel that Phil had driven to Helena from Yellowstone and suffered a heart attack in his hotel room.
Communities like NPN allow us to make acquaintances and often strong friendships with folks all over the country and the world. My earliest memories of Phil were when he first started posting on NPN. He was a self described “Know it all” and a bit of a curmudgeon. To his credit he began to take criticism in the spirit it was offered as moderators and gallery participants encouraged him to expand and refine his talents. He became one of the early users of focus stacking and rapidly became an expert, patiently and thoroughly explaining his techniques to anyone who inquired. Phil’s crowning achievement was his selection as the 2014 Flora Editors Pick award winner, the image presented here. He came on board as a moderator shortly after and was a joy to work with. His passion for processing was complemented by my preference for single capture and I think it made us a strong team.
It was indeed my joy and privilege to have known Phil. He was a tremendous resource to NPN and a fine friend. I’m thankful that we got to meet in person and so sorry that our relationship has been cut short. David Kingham was able to put together a tribute to Phil that I hope you will view and enjoy. Phil will be sorely missed but fondly remembered. May he truly rest in peace. >=))>