Celebrating Philip Stewart


Recording of Philip’s Memorial Service

September 9, 2023

Philip Michael Stewart
Feb 13, 1983 – Aug 23, 2023

You couldn’t know Philip Michael Stewart without loving him. He seemed to have endless energy, was always ready with a smile, and adored spending time surrounded by people. 

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Phil spent his life traveling and seeing the world.

Phil moved to Washington, DC after high school, where he attended American University (2002-2005), graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism. Aside from his academic interests in journalism, he was also very active in AU’s musical theatre program, particularly his lead role as the Emcee in the production of Cabaret.

After graduating, Phil worked as a reporter and anchor at WCAV-TV in Charlottesville, VA, and then moved back to the District where he was a reporter for WJLA-TV for four years. During that time, he received a National Capital Emmy Award for investigative reporting, as well as a Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Award.

Phil then moved away from journalism to be the spokesperson for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, before landing a dream job of working for a major airline in New York City, in 2015.

While Washington, DC had been his home for nearly 12 years, Phil truly loved anything having to do with air travel. He once said the place he felt the most relaxed was on an airplane. Phil spent over eight years at JetBlue, then recently moved to British Airways earlier this year, as Vice President of Corporate Affairs.

He dreamed of seeing the world – and he did. He shared part of that dream with his beloved mother, Priscilla, to whom he was very close. She was an important part of his life, visiting Washington, DC and NYC on holidays, weaving into the fabric of his life and friends there. He took her to Europe for the first time and always brought her something back from every one of his trips.

During Tel Aviv Pride in June 2016, Phil met his love, Barak. They married in October 2017 in NYC. Barak’s love of exploring equaled Phil’s and the two traveled to innumerable countries together, as well as with friends. His favorite locations included the French Riviera, Palm Springs, CA, and Tel Aviv. He loved the beach and was happiest in the sun, next to the water.

After meeting Barak, he learned Hebrew and participated fully in all the Jewish holidays. While Phil loved going to new places, he also had a deep sense of tradition. Harkening back to his German, mid-western roots, he always ate pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day for good luck. He would throw pumpkin-carving parties every Halloween where he would instruct the front desk of his building to not allow anyone up if they weren’t carrying a pumpkin. He cooked elaborate Thanksgiving dinners with his friends and family. He adored Christmas. His tree was always fully decked-out, the apartment filled with lights and decorations, and he would make tray after tray of cookies and pizzelle.

Phil will always be remembered as the life of the party. All of his friends will tell you, with a smile, about late-night dance parties they shared, how any time anyone hears a Madonna song, they will always think of him, about his love of Chanel and fashion, about his sense of humor and charisma.

Part of what made Phil such a dynamic and enchanting individual was his curiosity. His interest in journalism was born from this, and you could see it grow in his love of traveling. When he visited new places, he asked questions and wanted to learn about the local culture and traditions. He was always interested in learning new things, seeing new places, having new experiences, and meeting new people. 

This curiosity, this spark, this lightness he shared with us all will be deeply missed.

Philip is preceded in death by his mother Priscilla L. Stewart. He is survived by his husband, Barak Kessar, his aunt, Phyllis Creer, and his sister, Teresa Delp and family.

A memorial service to celebrate Philip’s life will be held at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in NYC at 1 pm on September 9, 2023.


In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to The Trevor Project.

The Trevor Project

Please make your donation on behalf of Philip Stewart.

Memories of Philip

9 responses to “Celebrating Philip Stewart”

  1. Sara Meister

    We were dance partners in South Pacific my sophomore year at Kiski Area High School. Phil was a junior. We had so much fun together. I remember laughing and laughing. There was a lot of swing dancing in the play, and we’d always rehearse the lifts before showtime, so we wouldn’t make a mistake. Phil cared as much as I did about doing something right. I’m very sorry to hear of his death and send my deepest condolences to his friends and family. He was one of the good ones.

  2. Lisa Gausepohl

    I adored Phillip since the day we first met at Mercedes Club. For many years, he faithfully attended my Cycle class, and I’d tease him if he ever missed a session. Phillip’s infectious smile and positive energy lit up the room. Before each class, we’d eagerly chat about our shared love for Broadway musicals, music, and movies.
    Our luck couldn’t have been better when we both scored tickets for the closing performance of Music Man, and to our amazement, we were seated in the same row! Phillip sat with me, my sisters, and my niece. My sisters and niece liked Phillip immediately . What a show! I caught a glimpse of us in the audience on a YouTube. You could see Phillip and me excitedly waving and clapping our hands over our heads at the curtain call. I will never forget our Music Man experience.
    Your passing, Phillip, has broken my heart. I’ll miss glancing to my right while teaching and seeing you tapping along to the music, especially during a Madonna or ABBA song. While God has you in His keeping, you’ll forever reside in my heart. I’ll think of you often. Rest in peace.

  3. Sarah (Batista) Colón

    Phil and I met during our first reporting jobs in Charlottesville, VA. We were all young and carefree. From the moment we met, we clicked. Having no family or friends nearby, we constantly hung out – always laughing, listening to music and finding fun in the mundane. He was obsessed with Madonna, and we talked about it often! I always marveled at his OCD level of organization and loved his sense of style and design. I also loved his mom Priscilla who visited often.

    Right before I left Charlottesville, a few of us went out for a night of clubbing to celebrate my new job in Charlotte. That night has forever been dubbed the “epic night.” We laughed and danced ALL night til the lights came on and we were drenched in sweat.

    Over the years, Phil visited me in Charlotte and I visited him in DC. We also caught up for drinks a few times in NYC.

    While I have been shocked and deeply saddened to learn of his passing, my heart has been warmed by the memories of carefree times filled with so much joy and laughter. I will miss you, Phil Phil.❤️ I can still hear your laugh. You left us far too soon, but I hope you’re in heaven somewhere dancing with your sweet momma. Rest well, my friend.

  4. Isabella

    Philip was always a joy to be around. One of my favorite memories is the first time my mother, grandmother, and myself made it up to New York to visit him. Sitting around at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with warmth and laughter sheltering us from the cold weather is something I will never forget. The city felt like it was in the palm of his hand, like he belonged there. It was astounding to make something so large and broad something of his own. Every time I miss you, I will look up at the skyscrapers whenever I go to visit any city as the sky was never the limit with you.

  5. Jill Olmsted

    Heartbreaking to learn of my former dear student’s death. I taught Phil in broadcasting classes at American University and he was a natural from the start – smart, quick, charming, genuine, and ambitious in a good way. After he got established in his first jobs I had him come back and talk to current students. As a DC reporter I told him how good his news coverage was about the Georgetown murder of an elderly woman, I knew, as other media didn’t cover it with the same sensitivity. I watched Phil change careers to become very successful in corporate affairs. He will be forever missed and my heartfelt condolences to his partner, and the Stewart family on behalf of myself and as a fellow Eagle alum.

  6. Cheryl Parker

    I’m in a state of shock to find out that someone so full of life could be taken from the world too soon. I met Philip freshman year of college at American University, and we had all of our broadcast journalism classes together. We bonded over being from PA, even though Pittsburgh and Philly are far as can be. We were also anchors on ATV and his talent was effortless and unmatchable. He had the best energy and was always so fun to be around, and would tell me all about his DC clubbing adventures and his love for dancing all night long. It was great to run into him at Lauriol Plaza in DC a number of years ago and get a big hug and catch-up over margaritas. I loved seeing his travels on social media and I hope it inspires others to live life to the fullest just as he did. May his memory be a blessing and his smile and laughter live on in all who were lucky enough to know him.

  7. Brandee

    Most of the memories on here are from Philip’s adult years but my memories are from your childhood. I was 10 when your were born and your were such a gift to everyone. I remember you singing and dancing when he were little. You would be entertaining everyone and we would be cheering you on. I can see it so vividly in my mind. Then when Philip started to get older I would take him back to school shopping every year. We would show my Aunt Pris all the great deals we would find plus this was the start of your his love for fashion! Missy, Tasha, myself and Philip would play endless hours of monopoly and cards. We would laugh and the world didn’t exist except for the 4 of us for hours. When you came home from college it was like a party, we were so excited to see Philip. I will forever have those memories. You are gone too soon. The world won’t be the same without you. I love you always.

  8. Matt DeGroot

    I have so many wonderful memories of Phil that it’s hard to distill them down into words. One thing that absolutely stands out though – and I know others will agree – is that there really wasn’t anything else like going to a Madonna concert with Phil. I consider myself lucky to have attended the Sticky and Sweet Tour at Madison Square Garden with him way back in October of 2008.
    We took the agonizingly slow Chinatown bus up to NY from DC but our excitement and mutual enjoyment of the incredible cast of characters on the bus with us (I still remember our nicknames for some of them) filled the hours with laughter as we got more and more hyped for the big show.
    Before entering the concert venue, Phil naturally whipped up some of his specialty drink (extra stanky cosmos) and we were set for a great night despite forgetting to eat dinner. Oops.
    As you can probably imagine, Phil was excited all day long but as soon as we entered the venue that excitement evolved into just pure, off the charts enthusiasm. And it was infectious. Not only did I feel it but I know everyone around us felt it too. Even before the show officially started he had people around us out of their seats dancing. And it only got more fun from there.
    As Madonna took to the stage each new song was greeted with a gleeful scream from Phil and an immediate belting of the words right along with her. He was literally radiating with joy from start to finish and it was wonderful to share space with that bountiful, endless energy.
    By the end of the show I remember being covered in sweat from nonstop dancing, a tad hoarse from singing along at the top of our lungs, and more than a little hungry following our liquid dinner. Most people probably would have sprinted out of there as soon as the lights came up. But not Phil. We continued to dance and sing to the random music playing over the speakers as thousands of other fans washed out into the city. He just didn’t want the fun to end and I couldn’t help being caught up in that feeling too.
    We eventually stumbled out and made our way to the nearest pizza place for a slice (our lives depended on it by that point) and of course there was a long line but even that became a source of fun. As if on a personal mission from God to spread the gospel of Madonna, Phil managed to kick off a “Like a Prayer” sing-a-long with a group of strangers who hadn’t even been at the show! It was mayhem of the best kind and speaks to the special sort of magic that he brought to the table while under the influence of his ultimate pop music queen. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had that experience and to live in that aura of pure joy he radiated with that night. I will never forget it and know that somewhere out there he’s still dancing.

  9. Jesse Rodriguez

    We met around the time I moved to New York City. You lived in DC. We used to hang out and dance and have fun and laugh. We laughed so much. And then you moved to NYC, to my same block in Hell’s Kitchen. We hung out on my rooftop, I’d call when Hardware was hosting a Madonna night. You were a self-proclaimed Madonna Enthusiast. You even got to name a JetBlue plane after one of her songs. You loved your career in public relations. And most of all, you loved to smile. I can still hear your laugh. We were supposed to have dinner tonight. But you left us way too soon. I’m heartbroken. I will miss you, Philip Stewart. 🖤

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