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Brenda Jane Knobbe

September 13, 1962 until February 5, 2024

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Say Whaaaaaaat?

If buttons existed on top of urns, this is what Phillip’s button would say. Making people laugh was one of Phillip’s most endearing traits. He was always coming up with something funny out of thin air to add to conversations. He was personable, honest, witty, and to the point. He described himself as a “realist” and could talk about sensitive issues with sincerity and kindness. And if he really liked you, you would become a target of his wicked sense of humor. He also had a huge heart. If anyone needed help, he was always available. He was devoted to everyone he loved and always looked out for them. He never met a stranger and loved to talk about everything, but mostly cooking. He lived every day with hope, love, and laughter. He moved on to his heavenly home on February 5, 2024, at the age of 61 leaving a huge hole in the hearts and lives of everyone who loved him.

His favorite t-shirt described him best “Uncle Phil, the Man, the Myth, the Legend.” Family and friends can attest, it was not uncommon to witness the Legend in action even during the last few months of his life. He didn’t let his feeding tube, gastric tube, or liver drain keep him from doing the things he loved or knew needed to be done—like pruning the maple trees lining the driveway of the home of his dreams, cooking/grilling, or riding his zero-turn “go-cart” to mow the lawn.

After moving to Northwest Arkansas to begin another chapter of life with his wife, Phillip found his dream job working for JB Hunt. He was especially thrilled to work for a company that values its employees. He had witnessed the struggles of his nephew who battled cancer, and the support JB Hunt provided to him and his family during that time left a huge impression. Little did he know six months after being hired, he would be dealing with a similar battle. Before their move to Arkansas, Phillip was employed for over 20 years with Doka USA in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Phillip’s official diagnosis came the day he and his wife moved into their new home in December of 2021. Two days later he was admitted to the hospital and his family was called in. With God, prayer, strong faith, and great physicians and nurses, Phillip continued to beat the odds. Life had changed, but he was determined to keep living. Positive inspirations throughout his journey came from family, friends, nurses, doctors, and Chaplain Lance who always found us at the hospital or emergency room and provided emotional and spiritual support.

Phillip was passionate about cooking, grilling, and baking. He was a self-professed “Internet Cook.” Cooking was his love language and he loved sharing food with everyone. He spent hours searching for recipes and researching cooking techniques before using his family and friends as “guinea pigs.” Many of the prized recipes he found over the years were saved on the Paprika 3 app he downloaded on his cell phone years ago. With over 780 recipes saved, he left his family with his legacy of love and food. If he didn’t get the opportunity to share information about the app with you already, you now have a reason to check it out. He has been sharing his love for this app for years with everyone who loves to cook.
And if you were lucky, he would share his favorite recipes with you by sending them directly from the app. The Legend continued his love of cooking even after his illness left him unable to eat.

He enjoyed riding bikes and kayaking and spent time on several of the lakes and bike paths in Georgia and Northwest Arkansas before his illness. He was looking forward to beating his sister-in-law riding up the hill on the Lake Fayetteville bike path. The past couple of years his happy place was riding his mower or sitting in the rocker on the front porch waving at the neighbors and planning the next meal he wanted to cook.

Phillip was the third child born to Mildred Richie and William Pirkle in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was raised on Signal Mountain in Tennessee. His mother was a hard-working Christian woman who raised all three children by herself after her husband passed away when the youngest two were five years old. Although he was an identical twin (born 14 minutes after his brother Paul), he would always claim Paul had been adopted. His sister Shirley was older, and sometimes he would say she had been adopted too.

Phillip was also raised by his surrogate family, the Johnson family of Signal Mountain. This is where he learned valuable life lessons, how to fix anything (and he could fix ANYTHING), and what the love of a large family can bring to your life. Marvin (Joseph), Bernie, Kim, Joey, and Jennifer played a significant role in the man he became. He could sit for hours telling stories about the adventures he had with them. Most of the stories revolved around church, working in the hayfields, food, and gallons of milk.

Phillip handled his diagnosis with dignity, strength, and positivity. He approached life with prayer and focused on taking things one day at a time, one hurdle at a time, one moment at a time. During his illness Phillip continued to work, cook, and schedule projects around the home. He was an amazing man. Three weeks before his passing he required a procedure that would bring about sepsis and his death.

Phillip was preceded in death by his mother and father. He is survived by his wife Gwendolyn Pirkle of Garfield, Arkansas; son Alex Pirkle and daughter-in-law Bre of Chattanooga, Tennessee; son Andrew Pirkle and daughter-in-law Liz of Santa Fe, New Mexico; sister Shirley Condra, brother-in-law Lancle, and nephew Adam of McCormick, South Carolina; twin brother Paul Pirkle, sister-in-law Kim, niece Ashley and her family of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, and nephew Matthew and his family of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The family is planning the following Celebrations of Life:
• Saturday, May 18, 2024; 1:00PM – 3:00 PM
Garfield, Arkansas
• June 8, 2024 - 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Lone Oak Baptist Church
614 US 127
Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377

Donations in honor/memory of Phillip can be made to:
• Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at, or through the mail at 1500 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 200, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266.

Phillip’s battle lasted 25 months, 7 days. We are grateful and blessed for the time we had with him.

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