The Texas FFA family has lost a beloved young man. Phillip Caler, 20, of Booker in Area I, passed away on September 29, 2013.
Phillip was the object of national attention in October, 2009, when he fell 41 feet at the Circle Centre Mall in Indianapolis after being snagged by the moving rail of an escalator. He and his fellow FFA members from Booker, a northeastern Panhandle farming community a few miles south of the Oklahoma state line, were visiting the mall while attending the National FFA Convention.
Phillip, then 16, sustained severe injuries which required extended hospitalization and rehabilitation in numerous nursing facilities. He was the focus of prayer vigils and fundraising efforts across the nation.
Phillip was known at Booker High School as a likeable and active young man. He was a fully-engaged member of the Booker FFA, participating in leadership development events and serving as a chapter officer. And while he was considered a bit undersized, he was a scrappy, determined player in athletic events.
Booker agriculture science teacher Scott Miller said that Phillip was a very outgoing kid.
“He was not one to stand on the sidelines,” Miller said. “He did not hide or shy away, especially when it came to talking to new people.”
National FFA Organization CEO, Dwight Armstrong and Texas FFA Executive Director Tom Maynard spent several hours following the accident with Phillip’s family, agriculture teacher and peers in an Indianapolis hospital.
“Phillip is a student I never met in person prior to that tragic day, but I always felt like I knew him,” Maynard said. “He was known to the Area I members as ‘Cooter’ and brought a spark to every gathering.”
“Everyone was pulling for him,” he said.
Armstrong was instrumental in the weeks and months that followed in seeing that Phillip and his family were cared for during their stay in the Indianapolis.
Armstrong and Maynard made the trip to Booker to pay their respects at Funeral services were held on Thursday October 3, 2013 in the Booker High School Auditorium.
The family requests memorial donations be made to the International Brain Research Foundation (IBRF) at 227 Route 206 N Building #2, Suite 101 Flanders, NJ 07836.