A link with the community of Carroll and later Gunnedah was lost with the death of Phillip Edward Schutz, at Gunnedah Hospital on January 23.

Phil’s passion later in life was the Gunnedah Rural Museum where he enjoyed working on the tractors and steam engines, Don McDonagh’s model train set in the front garden and also helping to mow the lawns. Phil had taken up an offer to join the museum on a Work for the Dole placement in 2016, after falling into a period of low self-esteem following the deaths of his beloved parents just three months apart two years earlier. The museum became a big part of his life and he had just started planning the repair and restoration of a truck after the COVID-19 lockdown when illness turned the family’s life upside down.

Phil had attended Carroll Public School, where he represented the school in shot put and the Small Schools relay at PSSA state athletics in Sydney. He was even a training partner to Jen for cross country, the Gunnedah Gallop and Tamworth Ten. Phil completed his secondary schooling at Gunnedah High, finishing Year 11 in 1989.

After school, he went on to be a farmhand in Walgett for a short time, coming back to work with an uncle and two cousins doing fencing in Tamworth but eventually returning to live with his parents, who were renting a cottage at the ‘The Ranch’ on the Tamworth side of Carroll, where he went on to work for Doug and Barbara Swain for approximately 19 years on various properties in Carroll, Somerton, Emerald Hill and along the Orange Grove road.

After leaving his employment with the Swains, he had already become a ‘townie’ still living with his parents and Dianne at Hopedale Avenue, Gunnedah.

Dianne and Phil stayed in the rental home after the deaths of their parents, but in May 2022 had to move out when it was sold. After not being able to find a house to rent and the likelihood of being homeless, they were offered a couple of rooms in a house owned by a friend of Dianne’s, which was only to be for a few of weeks but ended up being 15 months.

In May 2023, Phil’s fight with cancer started in earnest, when a mole, that he had been hiding from his sisters, started to get bigger over six months, burst on his chest which meant surgery to remove what turned out to be a melanoma. It was while he was in hospital for the next month that the house that he and Dianne were staying in had to be vacated, so, while healing and preparing to start cancer treatment, the siblings stayed with an aunt until they found a unit to rent at the start of August.

At the end of October, Phil was to have an operation to remove a lump that was increasing in size under his arm but one of the doctors thought there was too much risk so he was flown to Newcastle in November for surgery at John Hunter Hospital and then the Mater, but the surgery never happened as fluid had started to accumulate in his legs to the extent that he lost mobility.

So nearly five weeks later, with daily oral cancer treatment to try to shrink the lump, he was transferred back to Tamworth Hospital and then to Gunnedah Hospital just before Christmas. Over the next 12 days his remaining kidney started to lose function and on January 9, treatment stopped due to kidney failure.

It was Phil’s wish to return to Gunnedah Hospital to be close to his sisters.

Throughout this whole ordeal, Phil remained positive and then on the afternoon of January 23, he died peacefully in his sleep.

Phil Schutz had a huge love for wombats, tractors, steam engines, cricket, meat pies and Holden cars – just a typical Aussie bloke who will be missed greatly by everyone who knew him, especially his sisters,

Dianne and Jen, brother-in-law, Gordon Macaulay, niece Kaitlyn, nephew Cody and his closest family and friends.

The graveside funeral service conducted by the Salvation Army’s Peter Hall was held on February 2, 2024, at Gunnedah Memorial Park Lawn Cemetery.

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