'Every city needs somebody like him': Fairview Heights man struck, killed while riding bike

News-DemocratJuly 10, 2013 

A mainstay and energetic volunteer in Fairview Heights was struck and killed Wednesday morning while riding his bicycle on Illinois 159.

Phillip D. Lubeck, 62, died at Memorial Hospital in Belleville after the accident. The accident occurred at 8:58 a.m. on Illinois 159, also known as North Illinois Street, at Kassing Avenue, according to Fairview Heights Police Department Lt. Steve Evans.

"He was struck by a car heading southbound on North Illinois Street," Evans said. "It was apparent that he had life-threatening injuries."

The vehicle that struck Lubeck was driven by a 30-year-old man and also was going south. The vehicle hit Lubeck when the bicycle he was riding suddenly turned to his left, directly into the path of the oncoming car.

"He was known as our gofer for the Fairview Homecoming," said Patrick McAndrews, a neighbor and longtime friend of Lubeck. "Anything we wanted, Phil would be there. He was a special needs person, but he was always there for people. If anybody needed anything, he would try to do it for you. A lot of things he would kind of screw up trying, but he was a lovable person. You just overlooked his problems and found the good in him."

Although he had knee and hip problems, Lubeck rode his bike everywhere around the city, McAndrews said.

Every morning he'd have breakfast at McDonald's and hang out with the guys, McAndrews said.

"He was a special person," McAndrews said. "He lived alone, but Fairview was his family. He knew everybody and never met a stranger. He would see something going on, good, bad or otherwise, and he'd stop and stick his nose right in their business. Every city needs somebody like him. He was special and he will be missed."

Mayor Gail Mitchell said Lubeck regularly volunteered at many of the events held by the city, including the annual homecoming, the art fair, the senior picnic and the fishing rodeo.

"He was my buddy. He was my go-to guy," Mitchell said. "Any time we needed anything done, you could count on Phil to do it and he'd never take any money for it. He would never say no to anybody. You'd just say 'Hey Phil, give me a hand,' and he'd be right there."

About five years ago the mayor awarded Lubeck a plaque naming him the city's "Most Dedicated Person." He has been a fixture at the city hall and city events, volunteering and lending a hand wherever he could for the past 30 years, Mitchell said.

"He was so excited about it and said it was the first thing anyone every gave him," Mitchell added. "He'd come into my office to see me and just talk. I can't say enough good about him, he's just a super guy."

Donna McAndrews, Lubeck's friend, neighbor and chairman of the Fairview Heights Homecoming Committee, said Lubeck has been volunteering at the homecoming for 33 years and volunteered at every event held in the city.

"Phil didn't know the word 'no,'" she said. "He would do anything for anybody. He was an all around good guy. If you would give him a hat or a T-shirt with the name of your organization on it, he would be so proud and wear it and show every body."

Mitchell has lowered the flags at city hall to half-staff in memory of Lubeck and is hoping to memorialize Lubeck's life in some way at one of the city parks, where he often volunteered.

"There will be a seat in the front row of the grandstand next to the home dugout at Longacre Park that can never be filled like it was for the past 15 plus years," said Craig Steiner, Fairview Heights Post 58 American Legion baseball coach. "He talked to anyone and everyone and never missed a game. The players come and go, but Phil was always there. Never a bad word came out of his mouth, just a smile and his laugh. Very sad day for baseball in Fairview Heights."

Evans said the accident remains under investigation.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.

Contact reporter Jennifer A. Schaaf at jschaaf@bnd.com or 239-2667.

Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service