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In memoriam: Celebrating the lives of three influential industry professionals

Sept. 9, 2021
Thomas Wilk honors three industry friends who are on the next phase of their journey.

This column celebrates the lives of three professional colleagues, all of whom passed fairly suddenly, one last fall and two just this past summer. They spent their lives building strong careers in maintenance and reliability, and also building strong families. Each also were contributors to Plant Services, sharing their thoughts and knowledge with you and me.

About the Author: Thomas Wilk
Thomas Wilk joined Plant Services as editor in chief in 2014. Previously, Wilk was content strategist / mobile media manager at Panduit. Prior to Panduit, Tom was lead editor for Battelle Memorial Institute's Environmental Restoration team, and taught business and technical writing at Ohio State University for eight years. Tom holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from Ohio State University.

Phil Beelendorf was long-time employee of Roquette America, Inc., where he most recently worked as the maintenance reliability manager in the Keokuk, IA plant. Phil also was a regular presenter at the SMRP Annual Conference, where every year attendees would pack his session to hear a presentation that was equal parts engineering knowledge and revival meeting. If you saw Phil present, you’ll never forget it.

Phil wrote three cover stories for Plant Services, and close to a dozen other articles on topics ranging from compressor reliability to smart PMs and team building. His most recent article, on overcoming the industrial skills gap, was published in July 2020, and he passed soon after, in November. Of all the things he taught me, the lesson that lingers most is to not be afraid of being openly passionate about your work and your loved ones.

Then this past July news came of the sudden death of Leah Friberg, whom many of us knew through her work for and with Fluke Reliability. In her LinkedIn profile, she described herself as focusing on “Industrial & IoT thought leadership, advocacy and connections.” Besides writing articles for the industry press as an expert in her own right, she tirelessly worked on the “connections” side of her job to bring industry experts together to trade and share ideas.

From the Editor

This article is part of our monthly From the Editor column. Read more from Thomas Wilk.

She recently spent two years living in France, both to take a break from the corporate world and to spend more time connecting with her family, and returned with double the enthusiasm for her work in industry. She, like Phil, was one of our most enthusiastic voices.

Finally, for longtime Plant Services readers, the name Paul Studebaker needs no introduction. Paul retired in 2019 as chief editor of our sister publication Control, and passed in August after a battle with prostate cancer. From 2003-2010, Paul was chief editor of Plant Services, followed by several years at the head of Sustainable Plant.

It escaped very few people though that Paul’s natural inclination toward fixing things meant that he had a special affinity for maintenance and reliability, and he enjoyed every minute he spent reporting on and learning from this side of industry.

Keith Larson, current editor of Control, has collected memories of Paul from his colleagues and family, and shared them here. I miss Phil, Paul, and Leah very much, and it’s an honor to continue Paul’s legacy on Plant Services.

We don’t have as much time as we think. We never do.

This story originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.

About the Author

Thomas Wilk | editor in chief

Thomas Wilk joined Plant Services as editor in chief in 2014. Previously, Wilk was content strategist / mobile media manager at Panduit. Prior to Panduit, Tom was lead editor for Battelle Memorial Institute's Environmental Restoration team, and taught business and technical writing at Ohio State University for eight years. Tom holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from Ohio State University

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