Paul Phoenix

Obituary of Paul F. Phoenix

It is with deep sorrow and regret that the family of Paul F. Phoenix of Essex, CT and Venice, FL announces his passing. Paul leaves behind his devoted and loving wife, Melanie Haynes Phoenix, of nearly 59 years, his daughter’s Suzanne “Suzie Q” Phoenix of Essex, CT and predeceased son-in law, Jason Smith, and Paula “Bean” Phoenix Hurley and son-in-law Peter of Monmouth Beach, NJ, his sister Marie King of Burkburnett, TX and nieces Karen Shelley, Judy Crossman and Michelle Marcotte-Byrd. He spent countless hours teaching his girls how to fix, drive, build and repair just about anything, and whose husbands are forever grateful. Paul loved and enjoyed watching his four grandchildren grow into adulthood: grand-daughter Alivia Phoenix Smith, a graduate of UConn and resident of San Diego, CA, grand-son, Hayden Phoenix Smith, an engineering technology student at Connecticut State Community College, grand-son William Andrew Hurley, a third-year cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point and grand-daughter, Laura Elizabeth Hurley, a freshman at Syracuse University.

Paul was born in October of 1943 in Webster, MA to Theodore and Rose Phoenix. When Paul was 14 his family moved from North Grosvenordale, CT to Essex. Paul attended Vinal Technical High School for three years and Valley Regional High School for two where he was a member of the “noisy nine” car group and met Melanie. Upon his graduation in 1963 he worked for American Machine and Foundry in Essex. In 1964, Melanie and Paul married under the stipulation Paul learn to sail, eventually becoming a lifetime member of the Essex Boat Club. In 1965, Paul started his 19-year career at UARCO Business Forms as a pressman on the second shift. Never shying away from being busy or hard work, Paul joined Essex Concrete Products part-time in 1967, working both jobs simultaneously for 17 years, finally joining Essex Concrete full time in 1984. In 1966 he enlisted in the Army National Guard’s 248th Engineering Company in Willimantic, CT where he served as a Motor Transportation Operation Specialist for 6 years operating the rock crusher and driving the 5-ton trucks.

With his growing affection for big trucks, his next step brought him to his greatest love. In 1965 he joined Essex Fire Engine Company No. 1. where for 52 years Paul dedicated his life to serving the town of Essex. He held numerous positions including 7-years at the helm as Chief. His steady hand and friendly, patient and selfless approach made Paul a well-respected and effective leader. In 1983, during his tenure as Chief, Paul was awarded Firehouse Magazine’s Heroism and Community Service Award for his personal decision to evacuate and direct operations in time to rescue residences from several bursting dams during the great flood of 1982 - resulting in no loss of life. He learned from the best ahead of him and passed along his knowledge to those who followed. Whether it was getting the ladder truck to rescue someone’s cat out of a tree, flipping pancakes for firehouse town breakfasts, or running emergency operations during a major crisis, no task was ever too big or too small, above him or below him.

After enduring years of working outside in New England weather and climbing in and out of his beloved trucks, Paul retired in 2016. He and Melanie moved to Venice, FL so he could pursue his dream of living in a warm climate, vowing to only wear shorts for the rest of his life - a goal he successfully accomplished. There he joined the Sarasota County Croquet Club a half mile from

his home and maintained his membership to the United States Croquet Association. You could find him several mornings a week enjoying a game with new friends or participating in a tournament. Not one to sit idle, he found a small part-time job at the local hardware store helping customers. When asked if he knew someone who could help them with a project, naturally he said, “I’ll stop by after work” and so began his small handyman business, “Let Paul Do-It.” There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.

Paul will be dearly missed by all the lives he touched. A celebration of his life is planned at the Essex Fire Engine Company No. 1 in Essex, CT on Saturday, November 18th and will be open for all to attended. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Essex Fire Engine Co. No. 1, P.O. Box 786, Essex, CT 06426 or on their website


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We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory - Venice
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