Phil was born and raised with rural Winona roots. His father and uncle purchased their dairy farm, Feiten Brothers Dairy, where they served as one of the first operations that had pasteurized milk for the customer. Phil spent his childhood days delivering cans of milk to and from the farm. After the company was sold, his father purchased the John Deere store. This was the first building in Winona built after World War II. During his time at the store, Phil worked and continued schooling at Cotter High School for Boys and later attended college at St. Mary’s University. Phil purchased the store from his father and continued there for forty years.
Phil’s extraordinary commitment to our community goes far beyond one sector of care. Phil has been a Chamber Ambassador since 1970, and was deemed one of their first lifetime honorary members. He has fundraised for the Winona Catholic Schools Foundation and the Winona Catholic Charities where he’s raised $1.25 million in 1987 and $1.5 million in 1995. He is responsible for facilitating programs and fundraising to support the creation of Windom Park and the relocation of the Princess Wenonah statue. He’s supported Habitat for Humanity in the development of the Jimmy Carter Place. He’s responsible for initiating the Family Fund at the Winona Community Foundation. He has also been involved with the Winona County Dairy Association, the Winona Health and Auxiliary and Hospice programs, the Polish Heritage Society, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Knights of Columbus, Levee Park, and the Winona Historical Society. His presence is known at Steamboat Days where he’s aided as the harbor master and ran a milkshake wagon, the brat booth, and has been involved with Family Night on the Farm. Mike Kennedy, a nominator of Phil’s award, notes “Phil’s respect of land and people was always genuine, based on his good midwestern work ethic and a large heap of common sense.”
What does Winona mean to Phil? He conveys, “I love everything about Winona. It’s a good place to live and raise a family, and the people are supportive. Winona has been good to me.” The Founders Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to improving life in the Winona are through the use of their time, talent, and treasure. Phil created a vision of what Winona could be, and has continually motivated others within the community in pursuit of that vision. It’s an honor for the Foundation to award Phil, as his lifelong dedication and care has transformed our community.
Humbly accepting the award, Phil imparts, “it’s truly the people that make the community.”