Austin Phillips

Heaven Bound October 10, 2005

“After the coldest winter, the warmth of springtime beckons, and after the darkest night, the light of dawn appears once more. After the grayest store, a rainbow paints the sky with color, and after the strongest waves, fragile seashells line the shore. After the deepest loss, God gives the healing gift of memories to comfort and bring peace of mind when those we love are gone….”

 “We can’t know why the lily has so brief a time to bloom in the warmth of sunlight’s kiss upon its face before it folds its fragrance in and bids the world goodnight to rest its beauty in a gentler place. But we can know that nothing that is loved is ever lost, and no one who has ever touched a heart can really pass away, because some beauty lingers on in each memory of which they’ve been a part.”

Author Unknown


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Mr. and Mrs. Phillips and family,  I've never written to you before, but the events of the past 2 weeks have finally caused me to sit down and tell you of some of our thoughts.  I'm sure you know of the tragedy at Tyler JC with Payton Diers losing his life in an automobile accident.  Becky and I have been heartbroken over this.  We feel terribly for Scott and Rhonda and have conveyed our condolences and thoughts to them.  But it also causes us to think of your family and the prayers that go along with it.  Our son, Jordan Rutenbar, has played baseball for TJC for the past 2 years; however, he was not there when Austin was.  He didn't attend TJC until the spring semester 2 years ago.  We never knew Austin, personally, though now we feel forever linked to him and in a way, your family.  We live in Waxahachie (just a throw away from ya'll in Mansfield).  When Jordy first decided to attend TJC, he and I visited Coach Groth, where we learned that a young man had lost his life to bacterial meningitis  (something we knew little about).  We would soon learn more - the ways to contract the disease, prevention & treatment, and even other people's stories in dealing with it.  Jordan was given an innocculation for it as he was to be moved into West Hall on the campus.  As the school semester, and the baseball season progressed, we also found out from some of the other players on the team that Jordan had been given Austin's dorm room. To me, that kind of bonded Jordy and Austin in a deep, almost spiritual way.  Becky and I also felt this bond to you guys, though we never met face to face.  We would see ya'll at the games, and wonder with great sadness how it would feel to be in your shoes.  But, we also were amazed at the strength and conviction you felt just being there for that team and those games.  We learned from the other parents who you guys were, but were always uneasy with the thought of speaking to you.  We are both very emotional people, and we never could quite hold it together to just come and say "Hi", or "Thanks" for being there.  But we always felt it.  And I was always telling myself that someday I would either speak with ya'll or write to tell you how we have felt.  I thought the day might be the last game of last year, but Mr. Phillips, when you threw out the 1st pitch of the game with Richland, I couldn't help myself - Becky and I cried the whole day (not fought back tears) cried.  Then the fight during the game ruined the whole thing...the moment had been lost.  The next year was better.  The team played great the whole season; however, we were always wondering if we would see ya'll again, just to let you know we were still thinking about your family.  Then to see you guys at a playoff game...that was great.  I had heard from one of the other parents that ya'll couldn't come back to the Championship game but there you guys were.  Again, what strength!  I did take my chance to tell you that day that the players AND the families really appreciated you guys being there.  I even snuck in a hug on the field after winning the National Championship.  It made me feel a little better to have finally spoken, but you probably wondered,  "Who was that weird guy"?  So, now we come to the present.  Jordan has moved on to playing ball, and attending University of Texas - Pan American.  We're not at Tyler anymore, but we feel this huge bond to the kids and the parents of the Tyler family.  As I said, with Payton's passing, it caused me to just let you guys know that ya'll are a part of us (though we don't know you well) and that we think and pray for ya'll often. Really often.  I really hope that your family will be at the Ring Ceremony this Friday at Tyler.  Maybe I can work up some of the strength that you have shown to say "Hey".  We'd love to see you there and make sure you're still going on, even though we know your pain will never go away.  Recently, the Bible verse that helps me through life's tragedies has been II Timothy 1:12.  It says "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I've committed, unto Him, until that day".  Again, I hope to see you in Tyler (Austin really earned that ring), and we will continue praying for ya'll, forever, until the day we can me this Austin face to face. And any time you guys might want to talk (or for any other reason, or no reason at all) please Email, write, or call us.  We would love to hear from you.       All our love and thoughts, David and Becky Rutenbar    


My name is Robyn i went to school with Austin and the one thing that i remember most about him is that he always wore his hat backwards. and he had the greatest smile ever he always new how to left some one up when they were down. I graduated in December of 2004 but i walked the stage with him.... there is one thing that I want to say and that is something someone said to me when I lost my best friend and that is " he might be gone from earth but he will never leave our hearts" please Austin if you can here this please know that  we all love you and wish you were here. and say hey to Elaine for me and tell her that I love her and that i am doing ok . WE LOVE YOU AUSTIN.
love the class of 2005


Dear Phillips Family,
         My sincere condolences go out to each and everyone of you. There are no words that can ease your pain. It is hard to believe that another loved one has died from meningitis. I know what it is like to lose a loved one from this horrible disease. My sister Jane died at the age of 22 on December 27, 2004. My prayers are with you and your family at this time of loss. Austin, give Jane a great big hug for me. Tell her that there is not a day that goes by and I don't think about her. One day I will see the both of you in heaven.  Tracy Dore' sister of HBA  Jane Menard


Dear Austin and Family,
Your team played hard for you today and won the first game of the season. I know you were there and will not forget having number 21 with us today. Bless you and your family.
Dad Taylor.

Dear Austin we did not know you, but we wanted to write and tell you we are here and will try to help your parents, family and friends get thorough this very sad time. We will be faces and voices of people they may never meet or hear  but we will be lifting them up to the Father with love.  We will be as close as they need us to be. By now you have flown beyond the stars, entered the gates of heaven and have seen the face of God. As soon as you get settled in would you please find our Bear and tell him hello, and we love and miss him. And knowing Ryan you could even get him off the golf course long enough to play a little baseball. Until we meet. Frankie and Bob Milley, HBA Ryan's mom and dad.

                I went to school with Austin my freshman year and I've losta loved one this past year also, I know how hard it is and your son and your family are in my prayers.  I hope that your family makes it through this difficult time as Austin would have hoped and if any of you ever need anybody to talk to or just a shoulder to cry on, I'm always available!
Nikole B.


The thoughts and prayers of the team are with Austin's family.  Jared Smith


We're sorry about losing Austin. May God rest his soul. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.    Hugs and Prayers. Joe, from Houston

To Austin's Family, My heart and prayers go out to you.  My grandson, Michael Wilson is on the TJC Baseball team and played with Austin.  No words can convey our sympathy to you.  We will continue to pray for God to give you strength.  Barbara Wilson, Flint, Texas

There are no words that can be said to fill your heart as your Austin did. You just have to have faith in God that he is where he is needed and that he received the highest calling of all. Our prayers go out to your family as we know the pain and heartache of losing a loved one to meningitis-an unexplainable, devastating illness. Your Austin will watch over you and protect you in your hours of need.
Love and prayers,  Dawn Thibodeaux (sister of HBA-Jane Menard)
Dear Austin:

I'm so sorry you had to catch this horrible disease. It has claimed way too many young lives. Watch over your family as they will have the most harrowing days ahead. I lost my son, Eddy, in Nov. 2002 and he was about your age. I hope Eddy was there to make your passage to heaven a little easier. If anyone could, it would be Eddy. He cared about everyone.

Your soul is at peace now, and God called you home for reasons we do not know, but we have to trust that He needed you, Austin.  Please help all of us here left here battle this disease so that others don't have to die in their prime. God loves you.  Gail, Eddy's Mom
I am so sorry to hear about the sadness that has come to your family. I will pray for you and your family so everyone can get through this hard time. Austin is with God and remember, Austin will always be with his family.
Dear Austin Phillips Family and Friends,
We have found this poem by Margi Harrell allot of comfort.   It is hopeful that it will provide a measure of comfort for you during this time of grief, sadness and loss of your Austin.      May God embrace, and comfort you all.    Hugs and Prayers
Joe in Houston

When Tomorrow Starts Without Me

When tomorrow starts without me,
And I'm not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me;

I wish so much you wouldn't cry
The way you did today,
While thinking of the many things,
We didn't get to say.

I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know you'll miss me too;

But when tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand,

And said my place was ready,
In heaven far above,
And that I'd have to leave behind
All those I dearly love.

But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye
For all my life, I'd always thought,
I didn't want to die.

I had so much to live for,
So much left yet to do,
It almost seemed impossible
That I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
I'd say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized,
That this could never be,
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.

And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.

But when I walked through heaven's gates,
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne,

He said, "This is eternity,
And all I've promised you.
Today your life on earth is past,
But here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow,
But today will always last,
And since each day's the same way
There's no longing for the past.

You have been so faithful,
So trusting and so true.
Though there were times you did some things
You knew you shouldn't do.

But you have been forgiven
And now at last you're free.
So won't you come and take my hand
And share my life with me?"

So when tomorrow starts without me,
Don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I'm right here, in your heart.

Author Margi Harrell




Dear Family,
I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved Austin.  Even though we
didn't know him, it breaks my heart that he is gone.  Our prayers are with
you and know that Austin is in the arms of Jesus, ...... in GLORY!  Kate and
Carye (EBA) Wynn

To Austin's earthly family I wish I had the right words to comfort you.  But I know, that at this exact moment, there really aren't any words to ease your pain. Please take comfort in knowing you are not alone...we are all here for you.  In my heart I'll pray for a few moments of peace for you, my arms will hug you and I'll cry along with you. I really don't know what else to say except may God Bless you and help you through this.
Austin, the rather blunt, but loveable, girl that will help you with your transition is beloved granddaughter.  She'll give you the hugs that we all send to you. Please tell her that Grams misses her and give her a hug from me. Sharon Board Chehalis, Wa.


Family of Austin Phillips,
My brother played ball with Austin...I heard the sad news of his passing this evening.  My prayers are with you and your family...Amy Hollingsworth
(sister to Brad Rich)


My thoughts are with you at this sad time, This disease needs to be stopped, So that no more people have to suffer from it. May God bless you all love and prayers Sue (mum to earthbound angel Cieran)

Dear Austin's Family,
Austin is not alone... and either are you... Austin is with God and so many heaven bound ANGELS...
And you our dear friends are now part of our FAMILY...
Don't ever feel alone- We are here...  To cry with you, To listen to you and to talk with you.. When you are ready- We will hold your hands and walk        beside you....Hugs and Blessings, Lori-  Jena Mom (EBA)

Dear Phillips Family and friends
Our most sincere thoughts are with you and we pray for you during this challenging time.   May God welcome Austin home and give us all strength. The Family of Trey Capers


Dear Phillips family, my son, Cody played with Austin and is a Sophomore. We have been praying for you and Austin since we first learned he was in the hospital, Saturday night. I thank God I got to see the game Thursday at Mike Carter field. I know the team as well as all of TJC student and faculty are thinking of you and Austin. I have lost one son, and sometimes do not understand what is in store for us, but keep faith and please know that we are praying and thinking of you and will not ever forget Austin. His death may prevent someone else from contacting the disease because of the many persons it will affect, not only in Tyler or Mansfield, Texas. I am glad Austin made the team and now he is on the Best Team he could ever play for.Our Love and Prayers are with you and Austin. Tim, Cody and Cari Taylor.


Dearest Baseball friends, Our hearts are all yours at this time!  Our son is at Tyler and was Blessed to spend time with Austin.  We pray God will watch over you and hold you close in the days, weeks and years to come.  We take your loss very personal and would do anything to ease your pain.  Our prayers are with and your family.  With deepest                sympathy,  Mark, Cynthia, Kyle and Drew Denney

Dear Phillips Family and friends
Our most sincere thoughts are with you and we pray for you during this challenging time.   May God welcome Austin home and give us all strength. The Family of Trey Capers
Dearest Austin and Family,
I am heart broken to hear of your pain and suffering.  Although we haven't met, I am well aware of the long journey you have ahead of you. My daughter Amber, age 22 is in heaven.  Her life was cut short by this terrible disease.  Amber will be there  for Austin.  I pray for you to find peace along the way.  Please know we are thinking of you and feeling your pain.
Sincerely, Sheila Wright   

It is heart breaking to loose someone so young and full of life. I know God has his reasons, remember though we never say good bye to a Christian.  Brother Mike and Teresa

To the Phillips Family:
Our thoughts and our prayers are with you at this time of such a great loss.
John, Sylvia & Austin Villanueva


I am sorry to hear of Austin's passing. May God give you the strength you need during this time of sorrow.
love, EBA Sherry L.



God Gets You Through.  If God brings you to it.... He will also get you through it. How strong he must feel you are, to have sent you this cross.  How precious you must be to him, for him to put you in  the same position as his parents ( to loose a child)
I know words can not help at this time, but remember them and eventually they will.
Lots of prayers for you in these coming days from me.


Austin,  I am so sad to know you had to leave your family.  We may not understand, but we know you do now.  In the presence of the Heavenly Father, you have reached your reward and we are waiting to join you and the other meningitis angels that have reached their reward with you.  May the Father bless your family and help them as they grieve your loss.  We can't bring you back, but your family will always remember you and love you forever.  Bless the  family,  Martha, mom of eba Sherry Lopez


Dear Phillips Family
My son, C.J., was so blessed to have met Austin and become friends with him. I can't think of many times that I did not see the two of them together since school has started.  What an impact he made on us.  I can see his big bright smile when I think of him.  I am truly sorry for your loss and we are feeling it in our home also.  We were also at the scrimmage Thursday night to watch the boys.  I remember shaking my head at them and their shaved heads.  It's a baseball thing, I was told by them with their big smiles.  It is hard to type through the tears, but there is peace in knowing we will see him in heaven.  We are here if you need anything, just call C.J.   Thanks for taking time to inquire on his feelings during your grief, that meant alot.
Bblessings to you all
Bryan, Shelley, C.J. and Shelbi Burkham
Dear Phillips Family,
My sincerest and deepest sympathies to you and all of your family and friends. My daughter Emily was 9 when she died of Meningitis. In November, it will be 4 years. Your son is in Heaven now. No pain, no tears, no sorrow, only the purest joy ever. We are the ones left in pain and sorrow. My heart is breaking for you and I am crying for you and I feel your pain. You are not alone, we are all here for you.
When you get a chance, or perhaps have someone else do this, please get the book " How To Survive The Loss Of A Child", by Catherine Sanders. It has helped me so much and I continue to read it. Heartfelt prayers to all of you.
Robin  Emily Marie Katzaman's Mom, died 11/12/01) from Pennsylvania.
To the family of Austin Phillips - we are so sorry for your loss.  Please
know that you are all in our hearts and prayers.

Austin Villanueva & Family
Tyler Junior College Baseball
Austin, I am going to miss you so much. u were always there for me through thick and thin. I know we had our hard times but in the end everything worked out. I love you so much, with all my heart and that will never end. You are such an amazing person and such an inspiration. you have taught me so much about myself, from confidence and self esteem to love and dedication. Austin you r so incredible and I hope you know what an impact you have had on every single persons life you have touched. I love you - forever ... Hope you are having an amazing time in heaven with God, actually, I know you are having a blast. Shine your light down on us little man. I love you -- Kayli Lagow
                 Phillips family,
I love each and every single one of you with all my heart, as if you are my own family. I  will always think of you this way. you have always been so kind and caring. Taking me into your hearts, and allowing me to be a part of family activities. Austin was the most amazing person I have ever met in my entire life. He was an awesome boyfriend and an awesome guy all around. He was like a brother to my brothers. On the Tuesday after Austin passed my youngest brother was throwing a football in the backyard and he ran up to me and my mom and said you know Austin is the one who taught me how to throw a football good and Austin is the one who taught me how to be the best baseball player. I thought that was so cute and I took it to heart.. cause you know Austin was an amazing teacher and every time he taught my brother something you could see how happy he was and them glow in this eyes. He also was always there for my 16 yr old brother who loves him so much and looked up to Austin. Austin was and is loved by so many people, he just didn't know it. I think its beautiful now cause he is in heaven and sees just how many people really did love him& care about him. He is so happy right now, and he deserves all the happiness in the world. I know these times are going to be hard for you all and if you ever need anything I am here! Alyssa, if you ever need anything you know who to call I love you like a sister (seriously) .. God be with you .. all of you. --Kayli Lagow

   To Austin's Family,

We are so sadden by yet another loss to this devastating disease and you have our sincerest and
deepest sympathies.  We lost our daughter on May 10, 2004 to meningococcal meningitis.  It breaks my heart to hear of another family having to live this nightmare.  Our only salvation is
to believe that God called our children home to be His special angels because of the goodness they possessed and their positive energy that can be used in teaching and healing from Heaven. We are being stretched right now, to the point of breakage sometimes, but knowing that we will be reunited someday gives us hope and strengthens our faith. The best we can do is open our
heart to receive comfort and healing from God.  Our kids are in their ultimate glory in His they are happy
and serving the Lord.   Right now the Heaven bound angels are probably celebrating Austin
joining their team and planning a big baseball game in his honor.

Please know that we are praying for comfort, peace and happy memories to be with you!

Janet - Mom to HBA Nicole Evans


I didn't know you, only heard about you thru a friend.  My prayers are with your family - I can only imagine how hard it was for them to have to let you go.  It's always hard to understand, but I suppose God needs angels of all ages in his realm.  Rest in Peace, and I have no doubt you'll pitch a perfect game in Heaven.
Pay it Forward and Pass it On!
Sometimes The Simplest Idea Can Make The Biggest Difference.
Dear Austin and Phillips' Family,
I knew Austin for only a few years but in those few years he taught me so much about life and God. He was a big inspiration to me and a big part of my life even though we didn't talk or see each other much. I'm so sorry to hear about his passing but he's in a better place looking down on each and every one of us. I pray for you, his family, every night.
~Austin~ Even though we knew each other for just a short time and we even had our bad times I still want you to know that I love and will always love you and I'll forever keep you in my heart. I'll miss you Austin and I love you.      ~ Samantha McRae~
    I don't even know where to begin to tell you how much of an impact you made on my life. I learned so much from you. I learned what it feels like to truly love someone with all of my heart and receive that same love. We had so many talks about heaven and what it would be like up there and I know you're in a better place now. You taught me so much about God and life and music. I don't know what I'm going to do now to help my taste in music. I guess I'm stuck with my horrible taste in it as you always said. You always told me to stop being so scared of trying new things and i want you to know I'm not scared now, you gave me so much strength and faith in myself.  You always knew the right things to say even if you were a hopeless romantic, you were a good one. You had so much love in your heart and i know so many people looked up to you for that. I am so lucky to have had the chance to be with you and learn from you. I know we went through some hard times but nothing could ever tear us apart, which we proved. We had a friendship that will last forever. I miss you and love you so much.  And as always "I'll be the greatest fan of your life" I love you. ~Allison Simmons

Phillips Family,
    I am truly sorry for your loss. I pray for all of you every night. Austin is in a better place now, but the amazing memories he left will never be forgotten. Your all in my prayers ~ Allison Simmons


Still keeping you close in thought and prayer.  The Denney Family

I would like to say to all of you that there isnt a day that goes bye that I don't think about yall or Austin.. I'm glad that yall are doing good..yall have been through allot ..I don't think I have ever met a stronger family in my life. I do pray for yall every chance that I get ..And I'm glad god brought us to even though I didn't know Austin that well I feel lucky to have gotten to get a chance to meet a wonderful charming man named Austin Phillips
I love yall and I love you Austin
Love the Dears


The Dance

The song on this page is by Garth Brooks & dedicated to Austin

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared beneath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known you'd ever say goodbye
And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd of had to miss the dance
Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn't I the king
But if I'd only known how the king would fall
Hey who's to say you know I might have changed it all
And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd of had to miss the dance
Yes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain but I'd of had to miss the dance




Meningitis Information

  Signs and Symptoms