Philip D. Fixman, who served as a constable in Chelsea for 53 years and established the standards of professionalism by which constables do their jobs today, died on Feb. 25 following a brief illness. He was 89.
Phil moved to Fremont Avenue in Chelsea more than 60 years ago and lived in a home there for the rest of his life. He and his wife, Sylivia, shared 60 years of marriage.
“There was no place that would be as suitable for him as Chelsea,” said his son, Michael Fixman, who became a constable himself in 1971. “He loved the city.”
A past commander of the Lt. Carl Stein Jewish War Veterans Post and a member of the Masons, Knights of Pythias, and Shriners organizations, Phil was the last surviving charter member of the Mass Bay Constables Association and was honored for 50 years of membership. He was the first vice president of the association and its board chairman for 30 years.
Asked what his father taught him as a child and throughout his life, Michael Fixman replied, “He taught me how to be a mensch (a Yiddish word that means a person of integrity and honor).”
Michael said that although constables deal on a regular basis with people who are not always in the best of circumstances, “I can never remember my father approaching a person or a house without a smile on his face and without treating people with the utmost respect.”
Phil was also a testament to individual courage and determination. At the age of 36, when cancer cures were in their infancy, Phil was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx. After having survived extensive surgery in which his voice box was removed, Phil lived for another 53 years and saw the birth of four great grandchildren.
“My father had a laryngectomy at the age of 36 – he was a true cancer survivor,” said Michael. “But he never looked back. He always looked forward. Everything he ever did was positive.”
Phil became the first constable in Chelsea in 1957 followed shortly by appointments in Everett, Malden, Medford, and Revere.
“He was the preeminent full-time constable in those communities,” said Michael. “A police chief once told me that he was an icon and it was the truth because my father basically invented the wheel and professionalized the way constables do business. He was a mentor and trained other constables.”
Phil always dressed and acted appropriately in the execution of his work as a constable.
“Although he carried a firearm, nobody ever knew it,” said Michael. “Although he carried a badge, nobody saw it unless they had to. He didn’t push what he did – he did what he did with grace and dignity.”
Michael joined his father in the business 42 years ago and became a full-time constable in 1981.
“At a bare minimum, if my father didn’t served 100,000 pieces of paper, he didn’t serve one,” said Michael. “Between the two of us, we probably served a minimum 200,000-300,000 papers.”
Michael Fixman said his father wanted him to carry on his impeccable legacy in the constabulary profession.
“There are things that are never said but are just done – like nobody ever said you had to go to college but you were going to go to college,” said Michael, a graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in Criminal Justice and a board member of the Criminal Justice Alumni Association.
Michael paid a considerable and loving tribute to his father with his answer to whether he had learned a lot from Phil in this business.
“Is everything a lot?” said Michael. “It’s the truth. I learned pretty much everything. Basically I learned that if the business were a house, my father built the foundation and the first floor. I might have added another floor to it, but basically speaking, I give all of the credit to him.”
Despite his busy schedule and odd hours of work, Phil never shirked his responsibilities to his family.
“His family was the most important thing,” said Michael. “His children, his grandchildren, and later his great-grandchildren – we were without exception the most important things in his life. If something in the family was going on, my father was there.”
Mr. Fixman was predeceased by his wife, Sylvia, and a sister, Jeannette Surgecoff. In addition to his son, Michael Fixman and his wife, Susan, Mr. Fixman also leaves a daughter, Beverly Weiner and her husband, Benjamin, a brother, Samuel Fixman, four grandchildren, Jonathan, Michael, Randy, and Scott, and four great-grandchildren, Samuel, Anna, Eytan, and Avi. A fifth great-grandchild, Isaac, was born last Sunday.