Cover photo for Phillip Ralph Clissold's Obituary
Phillip Ralph Clissold Profile Photo
1941 Phillip 2023

Phillip Ralph Clissold

May 4, 1941 — February 1, 2023

Maricopa, Arizona, formerly of Marshall

Phillip Ralph Clissold, 81, of Maricopa, Arizona (formerly of Marshall/Battle Creek) was called to Heaven on February 1, 2023, following a hard-fought battle with West Nile Virus (2021) and resulting Myasthenia Gravis disease.

Phillip was born to Ralph and Frances (Woolsey) Clissold in Jackson, Michigan on May 4, 1941. He grew up in the Jackson area and was a 1959 graduate of Jackson High School. He studied French Horn, tenor voice, and music education, performing in band and choir as he earned his BA and MA degrees in Music Education from Western Michigan University. He also conducted extensive additional studies in choral conducting and vocal pedagogy at MSU, U of M, and WMU.

Phillip built a career and a beautiful life for himself, his family, and countless others by nurturing life-long appreciation, participation, education, and enjoyment of music. Over the years, he led youth and adult church choirs, middle and high school choirs, bell choirs, community choirs, and bands. He served as a board member for MSVA/MSVMA, festival host and choral/sight-reading judge, and president of Sinfonia (WMU) as well as serving on a variety of church, school, and community committees. With his students, he provided concerts, musicals, parades, and event entertainment for Schuler’s Christmas season (Dickens’ Carolers), the Marshall Home Tour, Turkeyville entertainment, and Pops Concerts. He conducted music tours to Washington, DC, and to numerous music competitions (where his choirs maintained a well-known standard of excellence). He continued to sing in his Arizona church choir until COVID necessitated virtual church gatherings.

Whether you knew him as “Mr. Clissold”, “Phil”, “Mr. C”, “Ralph”, “Cliss”, “Dad”, “Grandpa”, or “Papa” his gentle, kind spirit and quiet sense of humor were most prevalent. With his spirit, he excelled in teaching life lessons along with music and classroom content. He modeled kindness, dedication, hard work, and love of country, helping people (especially young people) develop their own sense of self and respect for themselves and others. Following his retirement from Marshall Public Schools (1996), he continued to educate children for another twenty years as a substitute teacher for middle school classrooms in Pennfield and Battle Creek. He taught by example and demonstrated his love for God, life, family, and others through his unending capacity to quietly serve in big and small ways.

Outside of music, Phillip enjoyed a life-long interest in trains (real and model), fishing, and airplanes. He particularly enjoyed a phone app that enabled him to track flights across the Arizona skies. He loved his mornings on the patio with pup Nellie, and even when his illness made it most difficult, he managed an almost daily “coffee” post on Facebook. Phillip dearly loved his immediate and large “extended” family. He loved hearing from them and followed their activities with great pride and joy. He had a giving heart and often extended a helping hand or place to stay to various family members and friends.

Phillip is survived by his wife of 41 years, Cathy; sons; Kelly (Anna) Clissold, Brian (Abbi) Clissold; daughters; Sarah Clissold, Kelsey (Anthony) D’Anna; grandchildren; Edward Clissold, Vaughn Clissold, Madeline Clissold, Charlotte Clissold, Brennan Phillip Clissold, and Domenico Phillip D’Anna; sister; Marie (Jim) Falconer, and many nieces/nephews, great nieces/nephews, three great-great nephews, and family fur-baby Nellie. He was preceded in death by his parents: Ralph and Frances Clissold, parents-in-law: Johnnie and Barbara Goodman; brother: Kenneth Clissold, special sister-in-law: Brenda Goodman, and special cousin Maxine Pogue.

A Celebration of Life will take place at Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, 723 US Hwy 27 N, Marshall, MI 49068 on Saturday, June 17, 2023 from 1:30 – 4:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to do so is encouraged to donate to the Phillip Clissold Music Scholarship Fund (est. 1996) through the Marshall Community Foundation, 614 Homer Rd, Marshall, MI 49068 or to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America, 290 Turnpike Road, Suite 5-315, Westborough, MA 01581. Please include “Phillip Clissold” on your donation. Kempf personnel will be happy to help you. Please visit to view the online obituary, to sign the online guest book or to leave the family condolences.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Phillip Ralph Clissold, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, June 17, 2023

1:30 - 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services

723 US Highway 27 North, Marshall, MI 49068

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