Philip James Clelland, born April 15th, 1992 and left this earth unexpectedly on March 14th, 2023. He leaves behind many broken hearts and lots of love. Survived by his parents Nelda Casper Clelland and Jim Clelland (Carol); his brother Douglas (Karen) and their children (Adia, Jasper, and Elon); his “Gma” Hazel Heider and Aunt Elaine Casper (Rich), aka his “other mom”; and his extended family of friends including Will Rees, Kayley Jones, Amanda Young, Tyler Evans, and so many more that it would be impossible to list everyone here. Words cannot truly capture Phil’s spirit that he leaves behind.
He was a prolific athlete who excelled in all his sports endeavors; soccer, ultimate frisbee, running, basketball, football, tennis, pickleball, golf, ping pong, to name just a few. If you ever played one of these sports with him, you would also discover that he was fiercely competitive. He might be teaching you to play pickleball, but you would quickly realize that this was not a friendly game and he would indeed be kicking your ass. He was an exceptional musician, and decided he would be a trumpet player at age 2. He would grow to be a great one. He also enjoyed cooking (marinated flank steak was his specialty). Providing a meal for those he loved, whether home cooked or picking up your favorite take-out, was just another act of service to quietly demonstrate that he truly cared about you.
Phil was always a thrill seeker, whether skydiving, climbing dangerous mountains in an approaching storm, or hitting top speeds on his motorcycle. To Phil, higher, faster and scarier were always better.
His fierce determination to prove that he could do anything he set his mind to, and do it well, would drive him to spend hours shooting hoops in the driveway until he could hit that three point shot with his eyes closed. We are so proud that he graduated Magna Cum Laude from UMBC with his Bachelor’s in Information Systems, and went on to land a great job at SAP in internet security. His brain, brawn, and heart will not be forgotten.
Phil was an animal whisperer, and had a special connection with furry creatures of all kinds. He loved pets, especially cats DD and Buddy, and dogs Morgan and Lucy, among many others. He even once nurtured an injured fox kit back to health after it returned to its birth spot just outside their apartment. He also had a green thumb with houseplants, being so caring for other living things.
Phil cherished his friendships and was very empathetic and supportive of all his friends. His unique sensitivities to the world around him (such as to touch and scents) are mirrored in his unique sensitivity to the people around him. He was such a calming presence, and exactly the person you would want with you in an emergency. A natural leader, he would often be wrangling the guys together, such as for the annual Thanksgiving football game, or trying to keep his softball team, the Rats, from losing quite so often. He loved hanging out with his buddies, and as an adult he could still be his inner goofy kid many times, especially whenever he was around Will. He will remain forever young.
Phil’s struggles brought him to his darkest moment, but Phil did not lose in life. Phil was a winner, and he would want each of us to be the best that we can be. We deserve that for each other, and to honor his legacy. Believe in yourself, that you are a gift to the world, as Phil was. Be kind and compassionate, not only to others but also to yourself. Find joy in the simple little things, and love your life. It is the only one you have. Above all, keep moving toward the Light.
In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Howard County Animal Adoption Center would be appreciated. Please note “In Memory of Phil Clelland” in the comments box.
We will be holding a special celebration of Phil’s life on April 15th, 2023, location TBD.
We will update here once with a time and location once finalized. His family would like to invite any and all who would like to attend.
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