Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes

1730 East Grand River Ave, East Lansing, MI


Philip Jerome Prygoski

December 7, 1947October 5, 2019

Philp Jerome Prygoski, age 71 years, passed away on Saturday, October 5, 2019 surrounded by family at his home in Okemos, Michigan. He was born on December 7, 1947, in Wyandotte, Michigan to the late Vincent and Rosalia Przygocki.

Phil spent his entire childhood in Wyandotte. He attended Our Lady of Mt. Caramel High School and immersed himself in sports. He excelled at baseball as a second baseman, and was a star guard on his high school basketball team. Phil was coached at times by both his brother and his dad. Upon graduation, Phil was presented with Mt. Carmel’s award for outstanding student athlete and continued to play sports well into his adult life.

Phil attended college at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and then a master’s degree in English literature. His unmatched intellectual curiosity led him to then pursue both a law degree and a master’s of law, again at the University of Michigan.

Phil was a nationally-recognized and respected constitutional law professor, teaching and inspiring thousands of students throughout his career. He taught for 36 years at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, receiving the Stanley E. Beattie Teaching Award an astonishing 35 times. Phil spent three sabbaticals teaching constitutional law at University of Wisconsin, University of Tennessee, and University of Oklahoma. He received teaching awards at both University of Wisconsin and University of Tennessee in addition to those he received at Thomas M. Cooley. During his tenure, Phil published approximately 25 law review articles on various constitutional law topics, and wrote a book, “Sum and Substance Quick Review: Constitutional Law,” designed to simplify the study of constitutional law and aid students studying for the bar exam. Phil updated the book every year with new cases and developments in the field. In 2013, Phil was one of 26 law professors featured in a Harvard publication, “What the Best Law Teachers Do,” a testament to his undying passion and talent for teaching constitutional law.

On February 9, 1985, Phil married Mary Katherine Hicks, a former student in his constitutional law class and fellow Lansing-area attorney. Phil and Mary had three children, Matt, Jeff, and Alicia. In 1993, they built their dream house in Okemos, Michigan, where they resided for the rest of Phil’s life. Nothing meant more to Phil than his family; he greatly enjoyed coaching his children’s basketball teams, taking them on family trips all over the United States, decorating the house together every Christmas, and spending afternoons together watching Michigan sports. Phil instilled a passion for reading and writing in all of his children, and when Jeff and Alicia followed in his footsteps and graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2016, Phil was there on stage to personally give them their diplomas.

In 2012, Phil suffered a massive stroke while doing what he most loved, teaching constitutional law at Cooley’s Ann Arbor campus. Over the next seven years, he made a miraculous recovery, never losing his extensive knowledge of constitutional law and never giving up on rehabilitation and recovery. During this time, Phil was able to go on several family trips; he celebrated his 30th anniversary with Mary in Holland, Michigan, made several trips to Matt’s farm house in Indiana, visited Alicia with Mary when Alicia moved to Washington D.C., vacationed in one of his favorite places in Door County, Wisconsin with his entire family, and visited Asheville, North Carolina with Mary and Alicia. Phil was able to travel extensively in his post-stroke years in large part due to the wheelchair van the family purchased with funds raised by the “Run 4 Phil” in June 2013, a day that Phil frequently cited as one of the best days of his life. Phil was so loved that he celebrated his 70th birthday in 2017 with eight different birthday parties.

Phil is survived by his wife, Mary Katherine (Hicks) Prygoski; his three children: Matt (Megan) Prygoski, Jeff (Sara) Prygoski, and Alicia Prygoski (Luke Orndorff); his granddaughter, Fiona Prygoski; sister-in-law, Shirley Prygoski, and his niece, Jessica Hicks, in addition to other nieces and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Ken Prygoski.

A memorial service will be held on October 10 at 11:00 am at the Presbyterian Church of Okemos, with visitations at the Church on October 9 from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm and October 10 from 10:00 am to 11:00 am.

Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers can be made to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Attn: Department 5930, P.O. Box 4110, Woburn, MA 01888 (rarediseases.org), an organization that helped Phil with his recovery after a second stroke in 2018. In order for the family to be notified of your gift in Philip's honor, please be sure the check the "Dedicate my donation in memory" and list "maryprygoski@yahoo.com" as the email contact.

Condolences and memories may be shared at www.greastlansing.com


  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders
  • In order for the family to be notified of your gift in Philip's honor, please be sure the check the "Dedicate my donation in memory" and list "maryprygoski@yahoo.com" as the email contact.


  • Visitation Wednesday, October 9, 2019
  • Visitation Thursday, October 10, 2019
  • Memorial Service Thursday, October 10, 2019


Philip Jerome Prygoski

have a memory or condolence to add?

Jim Dyer

October 12, 2019

He was, plain and simple, the best teacher I ever had. He had me on my feet responding to questions about National League of Cities v. Usery for an entire two hour class period, making me think and respond on my feet. I used those skills he drilled into us every time I stepped into a courtroom. I thank him for his training and remember his kindness 40+ years later. I wish I had known about the memorial service. I will miss Professor Prygoski.

Jim Hofer

October 11, 2019

My sincerest condolences to the Prygoski family. Professor Prygoski was one of my favorite law professors. I cannot think of one law student that ever had a negative thing to say about him. He was, and always will be, a man of great wisdom, intellectual ability, and outstanding moral character. After graduating from law school, I was fortunate to get to know him on a professional basis and call him a friend. His energy and his ability to distill the most complicated legal issues down to clearly understandable concepts were truly amazing. He will be dearly missed but he will never be forgotten by all of the legal minds he helped shape over the years. Rest in peace professor “P” you truly were one of a kind and I am a better person for having had the opportunity to know you.

A Friend

October 9, 2019

I will always remember Phil as one of the most fun and interesting persons that I have ever met. When you needed advice or an opinion, he had such an incredible way of delivering it with his knowledge and insight, that it gave you confidence and understanding to make a wise decision. If he had a bias, it was never really revealed in his presentation. He was always teaching and had more wisdom in his mustache, than most have in their entire being. His passion will always live on in his children, all of whom are very unique individuals, but share the Prygoski zeal for life. Mary's love and caring for him throughout their marriage and his illness, was inspiring. She is amazing. It was very difficult to watch him get knocked down with the stroke, but not surprising to see him fight so hard to the end. I will forever miss his friendship, his humor, his kindness and his counsel.

Michael Andary

October 9, 2019

Phil and his family are extremely strong and dedicated to each other. Phil was fun even when not feeling well; which is when I mostly saw him. Thanks for your spirit.

MaryAnn Fry

October 8, 2019

He was a profound influence in my life; a brilliant mind and kind soul. A dear mentor, and friend. Your love and care of him was heroic. My love, and deep respect to his family. I took every class he taught. Thank you Phil; Godspeed.

Jo Ann Cade

October 8, 2019

Dear Mary, Jess and the entire family. Please accept our sincere condolences. We are so sorry for your loss. Nicole and I our entire family knew how much you loved and care for Phil. God speed! Bless you all.

Jim Janci

October 8, 2019

To Mary & family,
Please accept our heartfelt sympathy. Prof. Prygoski was one of a kind. When the votes were counted, the coveted Beattie Award went to the best of the best; Prof. 'Pyro'. Phil was a great teacher, role model and a friend. He was one of the guys when Tony Paruk Esq. and his fellow 'Janush Bros.' would go bowling after finals.
He never complained about his health struggles. His greatest lesson plan : a. be yourself. b. be the best version of yourself c. suffering is part of redemption. Sadly missed.
Jim, Linda & Aaron Janci
Cooley Law School 1/1984

Karen Carpenter

October 8, 2019

Dear Jeff and Mary,

I know words aren't sufficient but my deepest condolences and your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

I never had Prof. Prygoski for Con Law but I heard that he was fantastic. I wore my Cooley sweatshirt to New Zealand for the study abroad. In an out of way restaurant, I cam across two travelers who had also went to Cooley several years before I did and fondly remembered Prof Prygoski as one of their favorite professors.

Sandra Davermann

October 7, 2019

Prof. Prygoski was an excellent professor. I would not have made it through Con law 1 and 2 without his help and guidance. He helped me pass those courses during the most difficult time in my life- the terminal illness of my dad. He was also there for me when I needed to talk or cry about my personal problems. I’m forever grateful for having the opportunity to be one of his students and getting him to autograph his book as a keepsake for my library. He will be truly missed.

Jim Banas

October 7, 2019

Some of my favorite recollections of Phil happened on the sidelines of Okemos lacrosse games. Along with others, we volunteered to keep stats during the games. Phil's warm banter and quick smile made it a pleasure to attend games regardless of the outcome or the weather. Phil will always be in my heart and memories as a kind and caring friend to all.