Craig Phylis of Bedford drove heavy-duty trucks for more than 25 years, primarily 18-wheelers and tri-axles for the construction industry.
When he died unexpectedly last week at age 49, leaving a wife and two children, his friends and colleagues honored his memory Monday afternoon with a unique and touching salute: a parade of more than 50 trucks.
The convoy traveled the length of South Road with a police escort. The lead vehicle was operated by long-time friend Justin George, who stopped at the family home at the edge of Bedford Gardens and presented a floral bouquet.
“I was overwhelmed,” said Julie (Abonesi) Phylis. “He came over to give me and my kids a hug. I’m grateful for the generosity and kindness of Craig’s friends and all who participated in the convoy in his memory.”
“The parade was such a thoughtful gift from Craig’s friends and trucker community, something that was so special to all of their family as they watched from their front yard,” said family friend Caroline Fedele.
The Phylis family includes two children, Austin, a freshman at Bridgewater State University, and Sydney, a Bedford High School junior.
George said Craig Phylis was his best friend; “we worked together, we raised our children together.” Julie said George “was a huge part of our kids’ childhood.”
When he learned of his friend’s passing, George related, “I got this crazy idea of putting a convoy together for him.” He called friends and colleagues in excavation, landscaping, hauling, tree service, “even the towing community.”
There were dozens of vehicles. “To be honest with you, it was very overwhelming,” George exclaimed. The vehicle Craig most recently drove for Walton Trucking of Billerica was second in the parade, operated by owner Eric Walton.
The cavalcade drove by the house and continued to the wake at Shawsheen Funeral Home.
Julie, who grew up in Bedford, said she and Craig met more than 20 years ago through mutual friends. They were married in 2003 and moved to Bedford the following year.
Friends of the Phylis family arranged for meals, gift cards, and a fundraising effort to support the bereaved family.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected], or 781-983-1763
What a wonderful way to honor a friend and his family.
Such a beautiful story and a wonderful way to honor such a beautiful man. Thank you Justin for organizing this Memorial event and sharing this heartfelt article.