KCRG takes applications for their "9 Who Care" awards each year. And among the winners this year is Vinton's Phil Borleske. With 51 applicants, KCRG came to honor Phil with an interview on January 8th.

Phil began adulthood at Warburg College graduating in 1963 and in 1967 he graduated from the Wartburg Lutheran Seminary. He was then ordained and began serving with his wife Phyllis, and their three children in six different ELCA Lutheran parishes until retirement 40 years later. Upon retirement, the couple retired to Vinton, away from their last pastorate so that the congregation could adjust to the new pastor. The couple's service together continued differently in Vinton until Phyllis passed away in 2012.

Volunteering and service to his community sum up who Phil is.

While he lived in Swedesburg, he was a member of the Swedsburg Lutheran Church and served for a decade on the Board of Directors at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago helping to oversee the creation and vision for the next generation.

He also served on the board of the Henry County Habitat for Humanity, service three years as the president. He's also served on the Healthy Henry County Communities executive committee and the Henry County Ministerial Association which included four years as president. He also served as a member of the WACO Ministerial Association, Henry County Foster Care Review Board, Foods Resource Bank of Henry County, WACO School Improvement Advisory Committee, Crossroads Hospice of Mount Pleasant, and the Olds Lions Club.

A man with a heart for service, Phil continues to fill the pulpits for pastors in Dysart, LaPorte, Shellsburg, Tama, Jesup, Jubilee and Vinton. He calls Bethlehem Lutheran Church his home. When he isn't behind the pulpit you might find him as the assistant pastor, or a communion assistant, lector or an usher. There is no task too large or small that Phil won't volunteer for. He has also worked on various property projects for the church.

As a retired pastor, he's willingly stepped in to preside at funerals of individuals who may or may not be of his faith, and made those last memories meaningful for the families. Each time, the services were held with great dignity and meaning for those grieving.

He has participated in the Vinton Area Ministerial Association providing volunteer worship leadership since he first arrived in Vinton in 2007.

He's also served on the Governor's Nonprofit Task Force helping to set new standards for Iowa nonprofit organizations.

Service has always been a part of Phil's life. When he moved to Vinton, he soon became involved in the community, here. led the Vinton Lions Club. He's donated his time and energy to the growing foods for low-income households and led in disbursing local funds to those in need.

Even in his hobby, he finds a way to turn it into volunteering. Combining his love of history, photography, and railroads and being a member of the Benton County Historical Society, Phil often shares the history of the local railroad and their time as a passenger service via the Vinton Depot. If you've had the privilege of listening to Phil speak about its history, you know that you're in for a treat.

Phil is fascinated with the history of transportation by train. When he first moved to Swedesburg, Iowa in 2008, he has been an active volunteer at the Midwest Old Threshers Association and other events that were associated with Midwest electric and Midwest Central. He has volunteered over 1,000 volunteer hours with the Midwest Electric group that restores and runs vintage trolleys. He often can be found as a motorman or conduture during events to raise awareness of these trolleys. He also volunteers for the Midwest Central, a steam train organization that restores and runs this century old equipment. Several years ago he helped to broker a deal that led to a donation of a vintage caboose that the organization continues to use. He also volunteers to serve as a conductor for various fundraising activities for MC including the Ghost Train during the weekends in October and the Santa Train in December. He has also provided over 1,000 hours of volunteer work for Midwest Central. He is not looking to retire any time soon from either organization.

He's authored several articles on the topic and included his own photos.The topics have included, "CNS Passenger Service in the Baraboo Valley of Wisconsin," "The North Western in and around Omaha-Council Bluffs," "Soo Line Sojourns" and "Tracking the Chippewa Trains."

Phil has a passion for history and serves in various capacities in the community where he assists with various historical and organizations. He is a member of Vinton Unlimited and was part of the committee that helped support the Benton County Courthouse clock restoration tower. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, you could find him volunteering at the Vinton Palace Theatre. He's a board member of the Hotel Occupancy Tax Committee advising on the distribution of tax funds throughout the community.

He volunteers for the Benton County Historical Society and the Benton County Historic Preservation Commission. If you want a tour of the Vinton Depot, the recommendation is to call Phil.

In addition, he contributes to the Sheriff Leland "Sam" Fry memorial. Fry was killed in the line of duty in November of 1938. He has served two terms on the Benton County Community Foundation board, and wa a past director of the Vinton City Foundation Board. He has also been an active member of the Vinton Lions Club since arriving in Vinton. He was a past president and is the current "Lion Tamer." He also volunteers in the food truck raising funds at various high school events.

He was often volunteering to help the local 4th graders at Tilford Elementary by reading with students and reinforcing and encouraging reading skills.

In his spare time, he play in the dirt serving as a Benton County Master Gardener and at the Old School Produce helping to provide locally sourced fresh fruit and vegetables to food pantries in Benton County.

In November you'll find him as an election official and in December, you'll find him ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.

His family often jokes that he "can't say no" whenever he's asked, or even if he's not asked but sees a need, he will pitch in and volunteer.

Congratulations Phil on this well-deserved recognition!

To see the interview on KCRG click HERE

Photo KCRG

Special thanks to Frank Kruse for help with this story


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BE February 19, 2024, 9:13 am Congratulations Phil!! You deserve to be honored for the many ways you touch our community. Thanks for all that you do.
RS February 19, 2024, 12:36 pm Congratulations Phil! Cannot think of anyone more deserving.
TL February 19, 2024, 2:40 pm Congratulations Phil a well deserved honor the town of Vinton
Is so proud of you!!
You are a great representation of Vinton 😊!!
LK February 19, 2024, 5:58 pm Congratulations Phil! No one more deserving than you.