Philip Michael Lascelle, M.D.
January 20, 1944 – May 31, 2021
Seventy-seven years. Don’t they go by in a blink? An adaptation of a line from one of our husband and father’s favorite movies, these words resonated deeply with him. A brilliant, reflective, soulful and wise man, he understood their truth. “Nota bene,” he would counsel our family in Latin: life is short, precious, and far too important to be taken seriously. This Renaissance man, with his warm blue eyes and authentic, unassuming manner, seemed to know everything about everything. Perhaps it was because he was an omnivorous reader of every genre of writing – or perhaps he was just one of those special humans that understood that the most important things in life were not things at all. For Phil, his beloved family and his cherished friendships were everything – his ikigai, his reason for being.
Born in the Bronx, New York, on January 20, 1944, Philip Michael Lascelle (Phil) was the only child of Philip and Margaret Lascelle. Raised in Pelham Manor in Westchester County, he often joked that being a oneling provided him many hours to spend on his own pursuing things that became lifetime passions: playing the piano and guitar, competing in varsity sports including football, basketball, and track and field, and writing introspective essays, poems and later, clever and colorful emails to family and friends. As a child, he traveled extensively with his parents and discovered a love of languages. He became fluent in Spanish and Italian and proficient in many others. A self-proclaimed autodidact, he never missed an opportunity to learn more about a subject.
In 1962, on a trip with his parents to the island of Jamaica, Phil met Shirley, who would become his wife of fifty-five years. Shirley, born and raised in Jamaica, was home for the summer from her college in New Jersey and Phil, who was attending college in New York, was vacationing with his family. They met on the way to the beach and three years later, they were married in Kingston by the Bishop of Jamaica. Their family, which grew over the years to include a daughter, Jennie, a son, Michael, three granddaughters, Camilla, Bryn and Caroline, and a wonderful extended family in Miami, was the most important thing to Phil. He cherished his time with each and every one of us and savored his role as husband, father, and grandfather. We cherished his gentle and generous spirit, his thoughtful wisdom, his exceptional humor, and his unconditional love for all of us. When the grandchildren were born, he declared that he wanted to be called “Rocky,” as Shirley was already affectionately called “Kitty.” But the hard “R” was just too difficult for the little ones to say (sorry, dad) and he became, for more than thirteen years, our “Yockey.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Phil became a medical doctor and started private practice in Sarasota. Board certified in orthopedic surgery, he focused on sports medicine and specialized in knee surgery. An athlete his entire life, this was a natural choice for him, and he loved helping his patients, many of whom he remained connected to long after their care. Throughout his career, he served as an orthopedic consultant for baseball teams, including the Pirates, Royals, Astros, Rangers and White Sox, as well as to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. On Friday nights, he volunteered on the sidelines of football games as the team physician for Riverview High School.
Phil graduated from Pelham Memorial High School, Fordham University, and New York Medical College (Flower-Fifth Avenue), at which point he joined the U.S. Army. He completed his internship at Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver, Colorado, and his orthopedic surgery residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The Vietnam War was raging at the time and Phil cared for countless wounded soldiers while at Walter Reed – a rewarding, but heartrending experience. Phil’s last period of service was in Ft. Rucker, Alabama, where Jennie was born in 1976. He was known as “Hawkeye” and lived on the army post with Shirley and their aptly named German Shepherd, Walter Wonderful. Phil was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Army Medical Corps, making it quite fitting that he died on Memorial Day.
Phil and Shirley moved to Sarasota, where Michael was born in 1978. With his family, he resided for the rest of his life on Siesta Key, one of two islands that came to mean so much to him. Phil enjoyed a beautiful life in Sarasota, relishing the wildlife he looked at every morning in and around Roberts Bay, the art and theater offerings he enjoyed with Shirley, and, most importantly, the deep and meaningful friendships he made throughout the community. Phil’s friends meant so much to him – and inspired him with their sharp, creative and compassionate minds. Some of his favorite times were those spent with them breaking bread, exchanging stories, sharing ideas, and telling jokes. With a wonderful sense of humor, and a natural warmth and wit, he had a gift for telling the perfect joke for every occasion and making people laugh.
Though Phil delighted in the simple things, he had a passion for adventure. He jumped out of airplanes in the Army, went scuba diving throughout the Caribbean, and loved restoring and riding motorcycles, including trips to Bike Week in Daytona Beach. He designed unique vacations for his family that included living on a working vineyard in Tuscany, studying Shakespeare at the University of Oxford, and immersing into language classes on the southern coast of Spain. He was at his happiest exploring the world with his family.
Phil was drawn to service in law enforcement and was a many-decade member of the 100 Club. He became a certified officer in the State of Florida, and a Commander, Medical Services, and SWAT officer for the Sarasota Police Department. He served as the Department’s SWAT Doctor for 27 years, from 1988 to 2015. He was also a lifetime member of the police surgeons’ section of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Warmly known as “Doc,” by his colleagues, he took great pride and pleasure in being a part of the department. It was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of his life and the friends he made there were greatly treasured. He was as proud of his time with the department as he was of his time as a doctor.
One of Phil’s favorite places was Nantucket, where he was a member of the Wharf Rat Club. He connected with the laid-back feel of his second favorite island and enjoyed its seaside landscape – especially the showstopping hydrangeas and an abundance of jeeps that remined him of the plywood one made for him by his father when he was four years old. It was on Nantucket that he began writing his blog, Island Oracle, a pastime that gave him much joy and allowed him the space to express himself about everything from politics to pop culture.
Phil was both a religious and spiritual man who felt blessed in his life – blessed by the love of a close family who adored him, blessed by the closeness of dear friends who enjoyed life alongside him, and blessed by being able to pursue so many personal and professional passions. May he rest in peace, in his favorite Levi’s, knowing how very much he was loved by his friends and family, including his extended family in Miami, New York, and elsewhere – and how very much he will be missed.
Phil was laid to rest on Friday, June 4, at Sarasota National Cemetery, following a private family funeral mass at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church on Siesta Key. The family is hosting a memorial gathering on Saturday, June 12, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., at the Field Club. Representatives from the Sarasota Police Department and Honor Guard will be present to pay their respects.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Philip M. Lascelle, M.D. Memorial Fund at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Phil was committed to providing scholarship opportunities to those pursuing careers in the law enforcement and medical fields.
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
The Field ClubRepresentatives from the Sarasota Police Department and Honor Guard will be present to pay their respects.
Philip Michael Lascelle, M.D.
June 8, 2021
I met Dr.Lascelle in 1981 on 3 NorthWest at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Orthopedic Wing at the Hospital, he would come to the floor after one of his SURGERY'S, I was a nurse who like to joke and have fun at work, Dr. Lascelle would come on the floor, I would tell him a joke and he would laugh, next day he would have one for me. The one I will always remember he told me was, Della, my wife doesn't mind if I go out to dinner as long as I eat at home, we would always have a joke for each other. He was a wonderful Doctor and a man I respected. He will forever have a place in my heart. God Bless him and his family. Thank you for making life a little better for all of us on 3NW.