Dr. Phiroze "Phil" Lovji Hansotia, 82, of Ellison Bay, died peacefully late Tuesday night, June 23, 2020 at Door County Medical Center in Sturgeon Bay with family at his side.
He was born November 8, 1937 in Deolali, India, the son of Lovji C. Hansotia and Banu Sohrab (Bhathena) Hansotia. Phil attended St. Mary's High School, a British prep school, in Bombay. Among his various courses of study was British literature, which facilitated his love for language. Upon Phil's graduation from St. Mary's, he went on study at St. Xavier's College in Bombay. Inspired by his paternal grandfather, Phil had aspirations of becoming a doctor. He studied at Nagpur India Medical School. There, he began keeping a diary, and his love for writing flourished.
Phil broke with tradition, and rather than going to Great Britain for further training, he had his sights set on the United States, where he knew the best (medical) technology existed. He initially interned at a hospital in Erie, PA then completed a residency at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. Phil received a fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for neurology and specialized in electrophysiology.
While in Madison, he met Marilyn Carol Fahning who was working as a public health nurse. They were married on January 21, 1967 in Milwaukee. They moved to London where Phil worked at the National Hospital for Neurological Diseases at Queens Square and also taught and conducted research.
He accepted a position at Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, where he had an opportunity to build the neurology program there. Marshfield's (neurology) program became world-renowned during his years of practice from 1970-1997. He also developed a Sleep Medicine department and trained EEG technicians. In addition to practicing medicine, conducting and publishing research and giving presentations, Phil provided medical care in under-developed countries outside of the United States. He served as an adjunct Clinical Professor of Neurology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1989-1998.
Phil and Marilyn retired to Door County in 2004 and made their home in Ellison Bay. While in Door County, he was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Ephraim, The Wallace Group (a Door County poetry group), the Door County Land Trust, the Ellison Bay Service Club, Ellison Bay Historical Society, and the Clearing. Professionally, Phil was a member of the Society of Clinical Neurologists.
With his love for writing and poetry, he published his first book of poetry, "Somewhere There", followed by "Looking for America" in 2012. He loved spending time with family and friends, biking, reading, playing tennis, painting, traveling to familiar places and to new lands and so much more.
Phil will be missed by his wife, Marilyn, with whom he was blessed with over 53 years of marriage; son and daughter, Eric Phiroze (Nicole) Hansotia of Alpharetta, GA and Shirene (John Herms) Hansotia of Mt. Pleasant, SC; grandchildren, Everett Hansotia and Alexa Chase; brother and sister, Noshir (Hootoxy) Hansotia of Phoenix, AZ and Nina (Myron "Mike") Myers of Los Altos Hills, CA; and other relatives.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Phil’s life was honored with a “virtual” memorial service with Rev. Phillips Sweet officiating. Interment was in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Memorial Gardens in Ephraim.
Phil’s memorial service may be viewed from his tribute page at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com/obituary/DrPhirozePhil-Hansotia or directly at https://youtu.be/oHZZ9XLtjZc. Video production by Bill Youmans and Christine Saldanha.
Memorials may be given in Phil's memory for Habitat For Humanity; Doctors Without Borders; American Red Cross; Write On Door County; and The Clearing (in Door County).
Casperson Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Sister Bay assisted the Hansotia family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Phil may be shared with his family through his tribute page at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com.
PHIROZE HANSOTIA LIFE STORY
As a young child, Phiroze befriended others like himself; kids of smaller stature, who were often preyed upon by older neighborhood boys. His mother Banu would lovingly apply ointments and bandage him up, sending him back out into the fray, where he became known as “Inky,” because of the purple colored antiseptic ointment used on his cuts and bruises.
At that young age, Phil recognized injustice, and refused to be a victim. He organized his gaggle of misfits and went on the attack. “We took care of the bullies,” Phil used to say, “and they never bothered us again.”
He understood the power of bringing vulnerable people together to turn the tables on the powerful.
That lesson became a guiding force throughout his life. While often described as compassionate, kind, loving, and, “a gentleman,” Phil also attacked wrongdoing and injustice throughout his life, fighting fiercely on behalf of the underdog.
Phiroze Lovji Hansotia was born on 8 November, 1937 in Deolali India. His parents, Lovji and Banu, settled in Bombay where they raised Phil and his sister Nina and brother Noshir. Phil grew up speaking three languages: Gujerati, Hindi and English, and loved school.
As a youngster, Phil loved to hear his grandfather, Sohrab Bhathena, describe his experiences as a well-traveled surgeon. These tales spurred a desire for Phil to become a doctor to help and heal others.
Phil graduated from the renowned St. Xavier’s College, a Jesuit-school based in Bombay. He spent his summers during college working in social service camps, building schools, roads and other community-based projects. “We lived in remote areas or city slums, took meals together, and sat around campfires,” Phil used to recall.
Phil attended medical school in Nagpur, India. He volunteered to provide medical services in rural India, confirming his longstanding desire to serve in areas of greatest need.
After graduating from medical school, Phil embarked on his grandest adventure. At a time when virtually all of his predecessors and contemporaries sought higher training in England, Phil fell in love with the concept of a nation built on democratic ideals. With $100 in his pocket and a single suitcase, he left everyone and everything he knew and came to America. Looking for America
Phil landed in Erie, Pennsylvania for his internship. Afterwards, he completed a year of pathology residency at University Hospital of Cincinnati, and then went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his neurology residency. A fellowship in EEG and Epilepsy followed, also at UW-Madison.
While at Madison, Phil met an intelligent and pretty young nursing student, Marilyn Carol Fahning. They were married in January 1967, and had two children together: Eric in 1968 and Shirene in 1971.
Shortly after they were married, the newlyweds moved to London, England for a year where Phil worked at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, practicing medicine, teaching and conducting research.
The family then moved back to India, where Phil was on the faculty of Grant Medical College in Bombay and worked at the Ruby Hall Clinic, teaching medicine and seeing patients.
In 1970, he returned to America, family in tow, where he accepted a position at the Marshfield Clinic as a neurologist and was given a “blank check” to build a sleep diagnostic and research center, which is today named after him.
Over the ensuing decades, he developed an automated electronic sleep-recording program. He went on to set up accreditation standards for sleep labs as well as EEG labs in the U.S. He was respected for his unique vision and collaborative leadership style. He authored over 100 articles on epilepsy, sleep disorders, headaches and many other neurological issues which were featured in myriad medical journals. He chaired and was a member of several neurology academies.
Due to an acute illness in 1996, Phil had to retire, leaving the work he loved. He quickly filled the void, taking on many new challenges and pursuing a wide array of new interests. Over the years he volunteered with the American Red Cross during emergencies throughout the U.S.; provided free medical care overseas in Ecuador and Mexico, and at a free clinic in Door County; and donated his time and energies with countless other organizations over the years.
Learning was a passion every day of his 82 years, and he dedicated himself to passing on that knowledge through his love of teaching. He liked to paint and write poetry and relished political discussions.
While he was physically able, he traveled the world with Marilyn and was active in golf, tennis, and biking. Spending time with friends and family was his greatest joy, especially visiting with his children and grandchildren.
On August 15, 1947, Phil’s mother took her children to witness India’s Independence Day celebration in Bombay. At some point, Phil wandered away from his mother’s reach and into a crowd of millions. Banu was terrified, and began frantically looking for him everywhere. She eventually found him, but this instance offered a window into Phil’s philosophy on life. Those who loved him dubbed him “Rover,” because Phil was forever curious, always roaming forward with eyes on the horizon, a smile on his face, seeking his next adventure.
Memorials may be given in Phil's memory for the following:
Habitat for Humanity
*Habitat for Humanity epitomized Phil’s desire to help others and his belief in protecting the vulnerable in society. Over the past five years, he also traveled twice to Americus Georgia to see one of his biggest heroes, President Jimmy Carter, give his Sunday School message.
American Red Cross
*Phil volunteered with the Red Cross for many years during his retirement. He provided mental health services to those in need during natural disasters. His volunteer work took him throughout the South, including Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina; as well as to Arkansas and Texas.
Doctors Without Borders USA
*During retirement, Phil volunteered overseas providing medical care to underserved populations in Ecuador and Mexico, as well as at the Door County free clinic. He believed passionately that health care is a human right, and fought doggedly in favor of passing universal health care during his lifetime.
Write On Door County
Write On, Door County focuses on the importance of writing and reading and the ability of people to connect through stories.
*Anyone who knew Phil understood his deep and abiding love of writing. Throughout his life he wrote a personal diary, which eventually grew to exceed 15 volumes. His deepest passion was writing poetry, and he was both talented and prolific. He published several poetry chat books over the years and his work was published in The Peninsula Pulse, and many other literary venues. In recent years, Phil taught poetry to children in the local schools and at the Clearing in Ellison Bay.
Instruction at The Clearing includes discussion, conversation, nature study and hands-on work. The folk school experience at The Clearing is a unique combination of learning, history, tradition, social interaction and quiet reflection.
*Phil may have been the original “lifelong learner.” More than any other quality, he had a lifelong quest for knowledge and deep curiosity about all things. He was a voracious reader and found fascination in meeting new people, traveling to new lands, and understanding different cultures. Along with that unrelenting drive to learn came a desire to share knowledge through teaching. Phil taught at University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Professor of Neurology, and taught informally in countless other venues on topics as varied as The Silk Road, The British Empire, The Mind and Brain, Universal Health Care, and much more.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dr. Phiroze "Phil" Lovji Hansotia, please visit our floral store.
Habitat for Humanity
American Red Cross
Headquarters: P.O. Box 37839 Boone, IA 50037-0839, Boone IA 50037-0839
Doctors Without Borders USA
Write On Door County
P.O. Box 457, Fish Creek WI 54212
The Clearing Folk School
P.O. Box 65, Ellison Bay WI 54210