Phillip Ronald Spinelli

June 5, 1937-Oct. 10, 2022

Dr. Phillip ROnald Spinelli (known usually as Ron) died quickly and peacefully on Oct. 10, 2022, at age 85 at the IHC hospital in St. George following a heart attack.

Ron was born June 5, 1937, in Homestead, Pennsylvania, the son of Phillip Paul Spinelli and Kathryn Bernice Ricketts.  Ron had one sister, Barbara, who was one year younger.  After their mother died when Ron was 8 years old, Barb and Ron spent much of their youth in Catholic boarding schools. Ron graduated from St. Leo College Preparatory School (outside Dade City, Florida ) in 1955.  He then returned to Pennsylvania to attend Duquesne University where he graduated in 1959.

He soon married Virginia Swigert and moved to Denver, Colorado.  There they would live for 14 years raising their three children Phillip, Jeaneen, and Virginia. He attained his master’s degree in special education from the University of Denver and a doctorate in psychology from Colorado State University in 1973.

He moved to Salt Lake City to become director of training for the University of Utah Counseling Center.  He would also go on to pursue post-doctoral training in neuropsychology at the University of Utah.  He took great pride in his work as a psychologist, helping diverse people discover and learn about themselves.  He developed a reputation for leading stress management classes for faculty, students, performers, and athletes; many people learned relaxation techniques from Dr. Spinelli.

In 1974 he married Joyce Moore, also a psychologist.  He has two stepchildren from his second marriage, Matt Moore in Salt Lake City and Angela Anderson in Parker, Colorado.

After Ron finished 12 years of service at the University of Utah, he accepted a position as outpatient director at IHC’s Wasatch Canyon Hospital and would perform those duties for 10 years. Ron and Joyce moved to St. George in 1997 where they have lived in their beautiful Kayenta home for 25 years. Ron started a program in Kayenta called “Staying Put” to organize resources empowering residents to remain in their homes as they age rather than move to a care facility.  Fortunately, Ron was able to accomplish this for himself.  He never had to leave the Kayenta home he loved.

Ron was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church for 30 years and was a board member of the local UU fellowship for 10 years. He will be remembered for his leadership, for the talks he gave and for his friendly smile.

Ron had many interests in his retirement, especially becoming known for his landscape paintings. In painting, he discovered a new part of himself which brought him great joy.

Ron was known for his sense of humor. He had an uncanny ability to entertain others with his colorful metaphors and cryptic comments.  His charismatic personality had a way of bringing people together.

Ron shared his love of the outdoors with his family, hiking many miles on backpacking trips, sharing endless campfires, sailing and canoeing and preferring picnics over formal dinners.

He found profound peace in the red rocks.  He also was an avid reader and loved to jaw (he called it that) with his family and friends, he could get to the core of any issue and wasn’t afraid of tackling the serious ones directly.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce; his daughters: Jeaneen Spinelli and Virginia Spinelli-Buser; his grandson, Alan Buser; his stepson, Matt Moore; stepdaughter, Angela Anderson; his grandchildren: Beau Moore, Montanna Hood, Kenadee Moore, Ariana Anderson, and Trey Anderson; and one great-granddaughter, Everett Moore. He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Barb; son Phillip; and granddaughter, Cortney.

His influence, humor, love, compassion and his emanating presence will be greatly missed by his friends and family.

“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” – from Ron’s favorite poem Invictus, by William Ernest Henley.

Arrangements are under the care of Metcalf Mortuary, (435) 673-4221. Visit the Metcalf Mortuary website for condolences, complete obituary and funeral listings.

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